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No Sudden Move Review: Soderbergh’s ’50s Noir Thriller Is Magnificent

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An aura of distrust permeates No Sudden Move from its first minute, as seen in the way in which both Goynes and Russo are skeptical of covert middleman Jones (Brendan Fraser), who asks them to simply detain a family at gunpoint for three hours. The suspiciously straightforward nature of the job aside, Goynes and Russo fear the involvement of mob boss Frank Capelli (Ray Liotta) and Aldrick Watkins (Bill Duke), two people they are on incredibly thin ice with. As the job unfolds, startling developments occur, including the existence of a document covered up by Detroit’s biggest auto manufacturers, and the involvement of several powerful men in a web of interlinked and often-conflicting machinations. Over time, the entire operation looms larger than it had originally seemed to be, playing out along the lines of “It’s a setup!”, as exclaimed by Cheadle’s character.

RELATED: No Sudden Move Cast & Character Guide

Frank Capelli (Ray Liotta), Ronald Russo (Benicio del Toro), and Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle) in No Sudden Move

Apart from delving deep into the underbelly of old-fashioned organized crime, No Sudden Move attempts to touch upon the issues of racial tension and ever-rising capitalist propaganda, although these themes emerge as mere affectations as opposed to sincere integration. The narrative is extravagant and slick through and through, with shots of smartly-dressed men in vintage Hudsons and fedoras scheming their way into the next betrayal or double-cross. Needless to say, the job undertaken by Goynes, Russo, and Charley goes incredibly sideways, with an insipid Matt (David Harbour) trying his best to navigate the new stream of events whilst making feeble attempts to protect his wife and children.

Moreover, the figures of Capelli and Watkins loom over the operation like a massive shadow, exemplifying the immense criminal powers that control the lives of those daring to overreach. Soderbergh underlines the theme of overreaching a bit too heavily throughout the course of the film, especially through the figure of Goynes, who is deemed as someone who “does not know when to stop.” Every character involved gets their due in unexpected and often cruel ways, wherein variant character strands are unraveled and tie together in a perplexing turn of events, which is thrilling to witness. While some audiences might find the plot overly long and too convoluted for its own good, Soderbergh manages to keep viewers intrigued enough to propel them towards a satisfying end with all the dots connected.

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Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle) and Ronald Russo (Benicio del Toro) in No Sudden Move

Another reason why No Sudden Move works well as a breakneck-paced hardboiled thriller is the seamless way in which the large ensemble cast works together. Cheadle and Del Toro are obvious standouts in their respective roles, although certain characters such as Jon Hamm’s Detective Joe and Matt Damon’s Mike Lowen emerge as dark horses in terms of plot ingenuity. Needless to say, the rest of the cast play their respective roles fairly well, including Julia Fox’s feisty and unpredictable Vanessa Capelli. Every beat, moment, and occurrence in No Sudden Move seems to be punctuated by brilliance and absurdity, the end result being a dizzying maze with endless false starts and dead ends.

NEXT: No Sudden Move Trailer: Don Cheadle Leads Ocean’s 11 Director’s New Heist

No Sudden Move premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival and was released in U.S. theatres July 1. It is also currently available for streaming on HBO Max. The film is 115 minutes long and is rated R for language throughout, some violence and sexual references.

Our Rating:

3.5 out of 5 (Very Good)

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About The Author

Debopriyaa Dutta (196 Articles Published)

Debopriyaa Dutta is a content curator, poet, and film critic based in India and a frequent contributor for High On Films. Apart from being a published author, Debopriyaa has been writing professionally since 2014, and holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and Theory from the University of Delhi. An ardent fan of cosmic horror and poetic cinema, she enjoys painting, along with reading literary works steeped in morbid nihilism.

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