Steven Soderbergh is back, this time with a streaming exclusive title to HBO Max. No Sudden Move is another ensemble from the master of ensembles, and features what could be Soderbergh’s best cast yet. Somewhat of an introspection on power hierarchies, No Sudden Move is also about as classic Soderbergh heist film as it gets. Centering around the duo of Curt (Don Cheadle) and Ronald (Benicio Del Toro), two guns for hire who bite off more than they can chew in the world of powerful men with ulterior motives.
From the beginning of the film, there is a sense of mystery and overall uneasiness about the film. Taking place in the 1950s during the Detroit Auto Race, it gives a lot of details through context clues. Moreover, Soderbergh doesn’t hold the viewer’s hand, lets the audience discover things for themselves. It provides an immersive viewing experience. Overall, this storytelling choice really helps to deepen the narrative and the audience’s bond with the characters. Speaking of, let’s talk about the absolutely stellar cast Soderbergh has assembled for this film.
Featuring the likes of Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Jon Hamm, and David Harbour, this film is as stacked as it gets. Moreover, what’s even more impressive are the leads, Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro. Two actors who manage to stand out in the sea of talent in No Sudden Move. Each character has their piece to play in the shadowy narrative, and they all do it to near perfection.
The narrative has a slow start with the first act of the film. However, the cast manages to keep you engaged. Once things really start to ramp up, though, you won’t be able to stop watching. The way Soderbergh constructs his intricate stories is much like the characters of the film itself. The plot is full of twists and turns and ulterior motives. Not everyone knows everything. Because of this, you’re wondering which character from this colorful cast is going to have their own agenda next. Watching Curt and Ronald navigate these betrayals and figuring out what job they were really pulling is super engaging.
Don Cheadle’s cool and controlled Curt makes for a great foil to Del Toro’s lax and insincere Ronald. Cheadle makes the most of the lead role, managing to balance himself as a character who should be taken seriously but at the same time is way out of his league. Del Toro on the other hand has a much more subtle performance. He does the most with very little, in that his subdued character’s machinations aren’t as visible as the rest of the cast. When his plans do come into play, though, it provides a satisfying narrative conclusion for some plot points in the story.
Photographed and edited by Soderbergh himself (under two different pseudonyms), the film has his fingerprints all over it. Shot with a sort of fishbowl lens feel, the cinematography isn’t as daring as High Flying Bird. Nor is it as experimental as Unsane. If anything, it’s a mix of both these films in production value but still feels made for the theater then an at-home streaming experience.
No Sudden Move is as Soderbergh as it comes in its structure as well. Characters with seemingly no connection to each other all eventually find their way to one another. Story points that seemed to have no significance later become crucial to Curt or Ronald in unexpected ways. There’s a certain finesse to Soderbergh and his direction, making viewers feel almost like characters themselves in this story, as we know just as much as Cheadle or Del Toro.
It all comes to a head with a subtle yet intense conclusion that wraps everything up nicely. If there’s anything to be expected from Soderbergh after films like Logan Lucky or the Ocean films, it’s a nicely tied-up conclusion. Anyone that isn’t dead by the time the credits roll gets their arc finished with a certain grace. It’s almost rewarding to see some characters make it out the other end, and frustrating to see others come out on top. However, that just shows how invested No Sudden Move can get you into its seedy world and characters.
Overall, No Sudden Move manages to make its mark as another Soderbergh classic. It has everything you’ve come to expect from the director. Not to mention, it has the A-List talent to carry it in some of the places it may be lacking. With two charismatic leads, the film conveys the feelings of its characters well and tells their story with great care and finesse. It is a fantastic streaming title and a great addition to the Soderbergh library of films. – Ernesto Valenzuela
No Sudden Move is now streaming on HBO Max.