No Sudden Move
No Sudden Move is familiar Soderbergh in the sense that it's a well-acted crime caper that's full of twists and turns, not to mention a stylistic vision that cannot be matched. Soderbergh has yet again proven that he knows how to make a genre film like no other.
Director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s 11,12,13) returns to the crime caper/heist genre with ease for No Sudden Move, teaming with writer Ed Solomon and stars Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro to make for another memorable film that’s available exclusively on HBO Max. No Sudden Move is both a retread of genres and themes for Soderbergh, while also being another slice of experimental filmmaking as he leans heavily into the style (without forgetting the substance) of his film to make something unique and niche in a market of over saturation and same.
Curt (Don Cheadle), Ronald (Benicio Del Toro) and Charley (Kieran Culkin) are hired to complete a quick “job” for Doug Jones (Brendan Fraser) that involves two of them babysitting a house, while the other escorts Matt Wertz (David Harbour) to his office to secure some highly sensitive documents.
Soon, the newly-formed gun-for-hires realize that this so-called easy payday is everything but and now they must untangle a web of double-crossing and ulterior motives in order to get paid and get out of dodge before getting killed themselves.
At its core, No Sudden Move is another genre flash-bang for veteran heist filmmaker Steven Soderbergh — the filmmaker behind the Ocean’s trilogy and Logan Lucky, not to mention a dozen other solid films that not only show Soderbergh’s range as a filmmaker, but his ability to continue to push the boundaries as an experimental filmmaker that dances with similar themes within a variety of genres, always managing to leave audiences with a wide smile or an expression of shock and disbelief as he yet again pulls the rug out from under us.
With No Sudden Move, Soderbergh returns to the heist playground, full of seedy characters and a string of plots that need to be followed closely in order to truly appreciate the entire picture. Writer Ed Solomon‘s script crafts memorable moments amongst the many familiar faces, including two strong performances out of stars Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro, not to mention reliable cameo work from the likes of Brendan Fraser (yes, that guy) and Ray Liotta.
There’s a few other awesome appearances that I don’t want to spoil, so I will refrain from mentioning, but Soderbergh again channels the best out of his performers, in similar fashion to Quentin Tarantino in that he just knows how to cast the absolute perfect person for each and every role, making for some minor appearances feeling just as strong as the heavy-hitters.
Credit must also be given to Soderbergh and his DP Peter Andrews for shooting the film with such a distinctive look. They utilize a wide-angled approach, also known as a “fish lens”, infused with a strong blanket of grain that absolutely captures the look and feel of a 1950’s period piece without becoming too gimmicky or distracting. The corners of the screen are blurred and somewhat darkened as detail is distorted and sharpened towards the middle of the frame.
I was initially concerned as I squinted my eyes to better understand what Soderbergh was doing and then the film naturally fell into place as the characters commanded the screen. This is unlike Zack Snyder‘s weird aesthetic chosen for Army of the Dead, which was completely off-setting and jarring from start-to-finish — Soderbergh utilizes this presentation to help you as an audience member better adjust to the setting of the film and the uncertain motives of each and every character.
The visuals become their own integral part of the film, revealing key information and carrying the plot along through sound and motion, in addition to the pages.
In the end, some might bag on Soderbergh for making a film that feels very much like a highlight reel or greatest hits of his own crime capers and that’s fair, because he does structure the film in a confusingly familiar way that (to me) makes for a Soderbergh experience, when you’ve accepted what type of film that you are watching.
If you liked his Ocean’s films, but want something a little more straight-laced and darkly comedic and just a touch bleak, then No Sudden Move might be just the trick. If Soderbergh isn’t usually your cup of tea, then your mileage is definitely going to vary as this is head-to-toe a Soderbergh joint, which means wildly creative combinations of characters, scene transitions and camera movement/placement, with a heaping cup of style and that lingering feeling of “what is going on” in the back of your head, until of course, the conclusion that spells things out for the most part, yet leaves things open for discussion and interpretation.
That sounds like a big commitment for movie-watching in 2021, but trust me when I say that you’re in good hands when it comes to Steven Soderbergh captivating your mind for a couple hours and squeezing out some honest to God outstanding performances from Cheadle and Del Toro — what I would give for ten more movies like this that just focus on such amusing characters played by strong actors that care nothing about brand or placement and just want to give you entertainment and levels of nuance that just aren’t seen by the masses these days.
No Sudden Move is, as of writing this, an HBO Max exclusive and I must say — it is fully worth the price of a monthly subscription or however much it is going to eventually cost you to rent/buy.