No Sudden Move Review: Soderbergh’s latest is an endlessly thrilling must-watch
Director Steven Soderbergh crafts an endlessly enticing crime thriller with No Sudden Move as it hooks you onto its mystery through its cast of suspicious characters and their underlying motives.
The film is set in 1950s Detroit where two small time hired guns look to turn the tables in their favor after a job goes sideways and they find that their past transgressions have made them the targets of some high-powered enemies. Stylistically, the film perfectly immerses viewers into the film’s 50s time period without it ever going overboard. The set design from Merissa Lombardo and film locations perfectly feels ripped from that era and work really well with Soderbergh’s camera movement to make No Sudden Move feel like a crime thriller from that era. The score from David Holmes accents the thrills and turns in the story well adding to the mystery and the ulterior motives of its characters.
No Sudden Move has one of Soderbergh’s strongest cast of characters likely since the Ocean’s films. No character or storyline is under-utilized and there’s a great background built for the film’s two leads, the never-satisfied Curt (Don Cheadle) and the very shifty Ronald (Benicio Del Toro), through Ed Solomon’s top notch writing. Curt’s character is incredibly well built how other characters talk about his bad blood with other mob bosses and how he’s incapable of not trying to climb the ladder to get the biggest payout. Even when he should stop and call it quits, Curt tries to tangle the web even more in the hopes of screwing over the top dog and taking away the most cash. Even with him being quite a hustler, there are shades of him that are sort of honest with how part of him wants to be out of the game entirely and his quick thinking and fast talking get him out of some hairy situations. Cheadle makes all of Curt’s criminal qualities incredibly likeable as this sort of underdog hero working against the powers that look to tear him down. The energy and charisma Cheadle brings alone makes this one of his strongest performances to date.
Beside him is Del Toro delivering a smarmy, but self-assured performance as Ron and he helps bring out the kind of comedic charm found in Soderbergh’s direction. The way he attempts to act normal in the middle of holding a family at gunpoint is really funny at times and the scene of him putting a blanket over a woman’s head simply because he wanted to take his itchy mask off and drink his drink in peace was hilarious. Also, he isn’t without his own issues since he’s sleeping with the wife of a powerful mob boss that leaves him walking on eggshells once their initial job goes bust. It’s another great performance from Del Toro and his chemistry with Cheadle is great as Curt and Ron are total opposites in the way they work. Curt’s much more of a careful, calculated planner, while Ron’s walking and talking can be a little sloppy and he easily finds himself on the wrong end of a gun on more than one occasion. They’re an odd couple and can definitely be on different pages, but that’s part of the fun of this film as everyone has ulterior motives that create quite a tangled web.
Outside of Curt and Ron, there are plenty of great characters and performances littered throughout this top-tier cast. David Harbour is delightfully desperate and frantic as a husband with some cheating ways that come out after he’s ensnared into helping Curt and Ron find a secretive document. Both Julia Fox and Frankie Shaw play perfectly unassuming femme fatales. Ray Liotta and Bill Duke have an excellent screen presence as two mob bosses that are looking to take out Curt and Ron. There’s even a cameo from one of Soderbergh’s usual suspects that’s always great to see and adds a delightful surprise – one of many in this twisty story.
No Sudden Move’s narrative is endlessly engaging with how it constantly weaves stories together, creates these impactful connections, and unveils ulterior motives. The moment of Matt (Harbour) talking with the secretary he’s sleeping with about their real plans totally catches you off guard and the entire end sequence leaves you on the edge of your seat wondering how things will play out and if Curt and Ron will be able to walk away clean. Nothing is ever a sure-fire thing and viewers shouldn’t get too attached to anyone since things can change in an instant. Solomon carefully ekes out and utilizes little details and conversations incredibly well creating these surprising turns. The way that Curt turns the tables during a dinner sequence that doesn’t go his way still blows my mind and even the way that Ron’s story comes to a close is both unexpected and totally fitting for a noir thriller.
The entire end of the story also leaves this deep impact on you in an unexpected way as it showcases the successes and failures in small underdogs taking on the rich and powerful. Although the big important document everyone is after isn’t the most compelling or interesting in itself and even the text that comes before the credits roll doesn’t leave the impact it should because this story never feels like it’s unpacking a historical wrongdoing, the moment of small-time criminals like Curt and Ron talking to a big-time corporate head is really interesting. It’s a big part of why their story is so compelling to watch and especially once you meet who they’re up against, you really want them to come out on top. However, things don’t exactly work out as expected and the film paints a daunting portrayal of how the corrupt leverage their power to stay on top. It’s an ending that brings everything together and genuinely sticks with you.
Soderbergh delivers one the best films of the year thus far with No Sudden Move as it contains an excellent cast of characters led by Cheadle and Del Toro giving undeniably riveting performances and a thrilling premise that keeps you on your toes and your eyes on every shifty, suspicious move.