Written by: Ed Solomon
Starring: Don Cheadle, Benicio del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser
Some filmmakers and genres come together as well as wine and cheese where their combination rarely ever makes for a rancid duo. This appears to be the case for Steven Soderbergh and the heist genre as the man knows how to put these together with No Sudden Move certainly not serving as an exception. With a robust ensemble cast to help bring this twisty story to life, this feature definitely has more on its mind and ensures to deliver it in classic Soderbergh style.
In 1950s Detroit, well-known gangster Curt (Don Cheadle) gets commissioned the opportunity for a paycheck should he simply babysit a family while the husband takes care of some coerced business. Paired up with Ronald (Benicio del Toro), the two figure they may be on the wrong end of this deal and call an audible for them to make money and survive this entire ordeal.
Lack of trust, money on the line, dubious figures, and plenty of betrayals, No Sudden Move provides everything people like about heist films, but the added element from the overall message this feature has about power in America and who owns it brings a little extra heat. This narrative works on two levels: one with the lower street gang individuals like Curt and Ronald, and then those who work in supposed legitimate business but deal with the same type of dirty money. Combining both of these elements, especially in a city like Detroit where a ravine in resources exists, makes for quite the look at who holds the cards and how the system works. Of course, this serves as the larger view of what this film wants to communicate, but on the micro-level, the players mucking about at the bottom of the ladder makes for some good heist fun.
Having Don Cheadle star as the lead of a film feels like a practice not exercised enough, and the way he portrays the grizzly Curt adds a level of humanity to this movie. The character with practically the least amount of ambition compared to anyone else just continually states he wants what is owed to him. Exactly what this may be remains a mystery for the entire film, but you get the sense this guy wants to hit a good-earned single rather than swinging for the fences, as what this feature displays, this will get you in the end. Then you have someone like Ronald, who walks around nonchalantly but has major ambition for what he can do with this money, especially when you learn about the romantic relationship he has with another character in the feature. Both Curt and Ronald differ in their approaches but for the short-term, they must trust each other seeing as everyone else seemingly wants to permanently close their eyes.
With those two as the leads, the other supporting characters truly add some wonderful filling to this story with each having defining moments they bring to the feature. You have David Harbour portraying Matt Wertz, the pawn in this game between the gangsters and the executives. Everything Harbour has to do in his limited time works so incredibly well, especially when comparing his size to the other characters. A guy who seemingly has everything figured out but when called upon to finally make a decision, he critically does not do what needs to be done. From having to coerce his boss to give up major secrets and covering up the truth from the police, Harbour absolutely thrives in this feature.
Then you have Amy Seiemetz portraying his wife, who also does a splendid job in displaying the fright, sadness, and anger this character feels throughout. Others like Julia Fox, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, and many more have limited screen time but absolutely make every second count in their contribution to the stories. They add to the twists or propel the feature forward, and their main commonality lies in making this entire process difficult for Curt and Ronald to get what they want, which serves as a good purpose, to be frank.
While exploring other types of stories, having Steven Soderbergh return to the heist genre will always be welcomed and with this feature, he proves to have full control on how to make these movies work. Taking the good dialogue from Ed Solomon’s script, he creates the necessary atmosphere of distrust in order to make any betrayal featured in the film plausible. Each twist and turn feels earned and the final reveal of the picture demonstrates Soderbergh showing his hand to reveal the lesson in all of this. Soderbergh certainly does not make pointless films and this one has a decisive and crushing hammer blow it seeks to deliver but only once all of the major scenes occur and we can rest to see what it all meant.