No Sudden Move Review

Mob flicks may have dominated a portion of culture for some time, but their influence has ebbed away. Not entirely, and considering how many are still made, we should take note of their style and their impact. But the glory days are over. These are not the days of Scarface and GoodfellasNo Sudden Move, the latest feature from Steven Soderbergh, does not wish to be like those former examples, nor does it wish to cultivate a new direction for the genre. By setting itself and its impressive ensemble long before the days of mainstream crime, Soderbergh enjoys the ability to come clean with engaging realisations of trope-worthy characters. 

His embrace of not just the time but the typical aspects of the genre is not just the mature choice, but the necessary one. Soderbergh fills every moment with recognisable faces, who help sell the scenes they see out. Don Cheadle and Benicio Del Toro lead the piece with defiance and doubtless charm. Dispelling any worries we may have about the period piece, their chemistry with one another is defined by awkward encounters and a lingering Brendan Fraser, whose return to the mainstream big-screen is a triumphant, warm one. He is in his element once again and brushing shoulders with Cheadle and Del Toro certainly provides some boosts to his performance, yet he holds his own alongside these two heavyweights with an admirable quality coming from his trilby-wearing tough nut.  

Although its 1950s setting is nice enough, there are moments, possibly due to the technical merits that Soderbergh takes on, that make No Sudden Move look modern. Its visual styling has seen an embrace in modern culture, but its aesthetic, design and lighting bring with it a noticeable clash of modernity. While the best genre pieces lift us to that world and allow us to forget that modern life is rubbish, Soderbergh never shakes the simplicity of his “career criminals in-over-their-heads” shtick. A simple job goes sideways, and unexpected it may be with these twists and turns, there is a sad uniformity to it. Noah Jupe’s first appearance and conversation with Del Toro leaves much to be desired, and the lack of tension at this moment is rather surprising. 

But surprises are thick and fast when adapting an all-star cast to the world of the Atomic Age. As Mrs. America makes herself the commonplace, household staple, the short ties, flat caps and Chevrolet-littered streets are a nice accompaniment to what Soderbergh wishes to do. He crafts a crime caper as good as any other, it just fumbles around from time to time. Lacklustre moments are few, but those few are pace-killing parasites that suck the depth and delight out of Del Toro and Cheadle. No Sudden Move makes no such movement. There is no sudden depreciation of its crimes, and therein lies both the beautiful uniqueness and leading problem. No sudden motion or action sets these terrifying troubles in place. An experiment takes us only so far, but if this is a taste for where Soderbergh can take the genre, then there is surely some merit and value to be found within the confines of the 1950s’ gangster gunplay. 

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