No Sudden Move

Soderbergh’s latest gangster movie makes a hit on HBO Max.

Director Steven Soderbergh ranks with very best filmmakers, because of his unique style of filmmaking, wise choice of ensemble casting, and professional writers, who know how to tell stories. “No Sudden Move,” released on HBO Max (as was his last entry “Let Them All Talk”), continues his legacy in the style of a Neo-noir gangster drama. It’s not always easy to understand, but it is entertaining in the sense that we love gangster movies, we love brilliant filmmakers, and we love the ambition put inside them.

You get big names like Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, Ray Liotta, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Brendan Fraser, and special guest star Matt Damon. And you also must love the cinematography Soderbergh paints (under the name of Peter Andrews as usual), because of how the characters are placed, and how the scenes are photographed. As the director and cinematographer, this guy is ingenious, and as a result, “No Sudden Move” is both smart and risky.

The time is Detroit, 1954. The movie begins with the newly released Curt Goynes (Cheadle) being hired by middleman Doug Jones (Fraser) to join forces with gangsters Ronald Russo (Del Toro) and Charley Barnes (Kieren Culkin) to force accountant Matt Wertz (Harbour) to take an important document out the safe of his boss Mel Forbert (Hugh Maguire). During which, they hold his family (Amy Seimetz as the wife, Noah Jupe as Jr. and Lucy Holt as the daughter) hostage, until the extraction is complete.

Unfortunately, the safe is empty, and Matt is in deep turmoil. And knowing he’s been set up, Curt kills Charley and with Ronald’s assistance, he plans to make a deal with his superiors-mob boss Frank Capelli (Liotta) and kingpin Aldrick Watkins (Bill Duke). The rest of the movie mostly focuses on Curt trying to figure out his situation and thriving on them with his words and actions.

The supporting characters in the movie also include Detective Joe Finney (Hamm), whom Matt, Jr. tells about the three gangsters in his home, while he was lead to believe it was just one man, whom his father shot in self defense. There’s also Frankie Shaw as Forbert’s secretary Paula Cole (get it?) whom Matt, Sr is having an affair with, and Julia Fox from “Uncut Gems” as Frank’s wife Vanessa, whom Ronald is having an affair with. And the Matt Damon guest star is a businessman by the name of Mr. Big.

“No Sudden Move” was also written by Ed Solomon, whose credits include the “Bill & Ted” movies, “Men in Black,” and the “Now You See Me” movies. Collaborating with Soderbergh for the first time, he writes such interesting and provocative characters who either know how the crime game must be played or must face the consequences of their actions. Sure, it gets complicated at times, but it’s still fun to see how everyone deals with their situations and decisions.

The best performances in the movie come from Cheadle, Del Toro, Shaw, Fraser, and Duke. Cheadle is versatile in the ways he steps outside his comfort zone to play the wise gangster, who isn’t afraid to rise to the occasion. Del Toro has his moments of charisma and tone. Shaw is razor sharp in the ways she criticizes the Harbour character for his choices about whether he should tell his wife about their affair or not. Fraser, who has found himself with a number of crappy movies (“Furry Vengeance” is a terrible piece of crap), fits well as the middleman with his age and attitude, and Duke looks cool with his suit, sunglasses, and persistence.

We just found about this movie about 2 months ago, we got to see the trailer a month ago, so it feels like it came at us from out of nowhere. This slams us when we least expect it with all the twists and turns, betrayals, reactions, and star-studded cast. Once again, Soderbergh delivers the goods, and “No Sudden Move” is something for his fans to see on HBO Max.

I just had a discussion with a friend of mine about me making the right choice of skipping Liam Neeson’s new action movie on “Netflix” called “The Ice Road.” What am I really missing? The same stuff we’ve seen done before in action movies. With “No Sudden Move,” I chose art over crap.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4.

Streaming on HBO Max

Categories: Crime, Drama, Mystery

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