No Sudden Move is about an escalating heist. Multiple factions in 1954 Detroit are after a plan for a new car part that would revolutionize the industry. The two men with the most to lose and the most to gain, Ronald and Curt, work their way up the chain until they find the biggest pay off they can. If they can get away with it is the question that follows. The film stars Don Cheadle, Benecio Del Toro, David Harbour, Brendan Fraser, Julia Fox, Amy Seimetz, Keiran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Lucy Holt, Jon Hamm, Frankie Shaw, Craig muMs Grant, Hugh Maguire, Tina Gloss, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke. The film is directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Ed Solomon. The film is streaming exclusively on HBOMax.
I'm a big fan of Steven Soderbergh. He brings an intriguing vision to each production and his films rarely look the same from one to the next. In No Sudden Move, Soderbergh and cinematographer Peter Andrews (a pseudonym of Soderbergh) use an intriguing lens that creates a warped distortion of the outer edges of the frame almost like we're seeing the reflection of the action in the back of a wide and flat spoon. I was thrown off by it at first, but then I saw its use as a way to see how our characters view the world. They can only see what's in front of them and everything else doesn't matter.
As Soderbergh serves as his own cinematographer and editor (Mary Ann Bernard is another pseudonym), it's easy to put him in the auteur category. He is a filmmaker with a great amount of control over how his film is presented on screen, but what really sings in No Sudden Move are the script and the actors.
Ed Solomon, not a pseudonym for Soderbergh, has crafted a complicated, air tight, and genuinely surprising story. The layers the script peels back are deft and intricate. While we come in knowing nothing, the knowledge we need is presented to us in just the way we need it in precisely the correct moment. Solomon has crafted something that answers nearly all questions we could have had and presents us with answers to questions we didn't even know we had. All the while the film is darkly funny, wry and utterly snappy with entirely three dimensional characters on every level.
There is one piece I have to dissect because it lingers in my mind and is one of the plot threads that dangles. It's as Mary Wertz is trying to make sense of everything happening and Dawn Atkinson, at whose house Mary and her family are hold up, comes and sits next to her on the patio. They start to talk and suddenly Dawn mentions that they should run away together. Mary doesn't balk too hard and even as Dawn pushes, Mary just says it's getting weird and walks away. So many questions immediately pop up, though when you think about them in the context of the emotion, alienation, unhappiness, and a need to escape, all the characters are going through something similar and will do anything to get there's out of this and just like that it fits again.
The acting is impeccable in No Sudden Move. Every single performer is doing something unique and brilliant with the material they're given. Mild Plot Points Revealed Ahead. Yet, nothing compares to the surprise of seeing Matt Damon's cameo as the fixer for the big four auto companies. He's definitely channeling the late, great Ned Beatty with his calm, in control monologuing and he does it so well. I'm far more interested in the small bit parts Damon takes on than his leading man roles. He seems more free to play around here and especially when directed by Soderbergh. The best performances are ones where you recognize the actor and then forget they exist as the character takes over. Damon has one of those kinds of performances here.
No Sudden Move is like a shadow message movie. Every bit of it has weight, but we fail to realize that until the end as it's a fun ride that doesn't wallow. Not all of it moves or moves me the way I wanted it to, but the film over all is an excellent example of a well written script that's perfectly acted and executed. See this film when you can, it's worth your time.