A retro Warner Brothers logo welcomes us. The titles evoke a style from a bygone era. A few minutes and a few brief details are enough for No Sudden Move (2021) to get us into the mood. To the rhythm of Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle) we walk on a random street of the 1950’s Detroit and as he walks the movie speaks as one of those noirs that graced the screen in those days that the Steven Soderbergh film alludes to. Nostalgia aside, the veteran director conceives a neo-noir that is both faithful to the original concepts of the genre and justly transgressive avoiding obsolete codes.
We can confidently say that Soderbergh walks familiar trails. Perhaps this is his purest approach to the genre of film noir but in his extensive filmography we can find many traces of that DNA. Out of Sight (1998), The Limey (1999), Traffic (2000) and even in the well-known Ocean’s saga with George Clooney and his combo. With No Sudden Move, he enters fully into this world to take us through an intricate story full of unexpected twists, foretold betrayals, boundless ambitions, and femmes fatale.
Trust is a trap
Curt (Don Cheadle) receives a call for a mysterious meeting, in an alley Jones (Brendan Fraser) awaits him to propose a job. Even when things don’t look good, the pay is juicy, and Curt needs every penny. Ronald (Benicio Del Toro) and Charley (Kieran Culkin) are the elements that complete the team for the assignment that Jones has prepared. The idyllic plan goes off the rails and Curt and Ronald will have to work together to find out who set them up and save their skin. Ed Solomon’s (Men in Black, Now You See Me) script relies on conventional elements but gives the characters enough strength to prevail over the events of the story. Here the emotional and psychological background of each of the protagonists is more important than the actions that trigger their moves.
If the male roles consume the majority of the minutes on screen, the twists gravitate towards two essential female characters, two femmes fatale. Vanessa (Julia Fox) is the one who clouds Ronald’s mind and handles him at will and Paula (Frankie Shaw) pushes Matt Wertz (David Harbor) into an act that puts his life in danger and triggers a series of events that touch the lives of all the characters. The world of No Sudden Move beats to the rhythm of the intrigue, the camera and the editing (both in charge of the director himself) ensure that this suspense is perceived in each shot, while the music of David Holmes (’71, The Laundromat) is perfectly adapted to complete Soderbergh’s narrative proposal.
Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro shine on stage with profiles that oscillate between intense drama and black humor. Soderbergh shows his mastery and delivers a forceful, entertaining work that makes perfect use of the resources offered by this cinematographic genre.