Detroit, 1954. A trio of criminals (Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Kieran Culkin) are sent to the family home of an accountant for GM (David Harbour) with the plan to force him to visit his office in order to retrieve certain documents. While the plan initially begins simple enough, things spiral out of control and a vast conspiracy unravels itself...
There are few filmmakers working today who can boast of the kind of work that Steven Soderbergh has. He's effectively avoided selling out on any of his artistic principles, he's made consistently entertaining movies, his work is smart without being pretentious, funny without being obvious, and he knows exactly what each movie needs and where it needs to go. Look at any of his crime thrillers in the past, and you'll see how he knows exactly how to play the con just long enough for it to make sense. 'Ocean's Eleven', 'Out of Sight', 'Logan Lucky' - the man can't miss when it comes to make smart-ass capers, and 'No Sudden Move' sits comfortably alongside his best work.
Like a good Elmore Leonard novel, it reveals itself at a considered pace, never leaving you confused but more entranced by how it's all going to resolve itself. Soderbergh's choice of lens might throw you off balance in a couple of scenes, but it just adds to the tension and sense of unease that he's driving at (no pun intended) in them. Some characters appear much bigger than we initially expect, others seem wider, but when the camera merely shifts an inch or two, we see it's something else entirely. It's the same when the story moves from beat to beat, changing and evolving into something different. In the hands of another director, this could easily get lost. Yet, with the union of Soderbergh's confident directing and Ed Solomon's jazzy, syncopated script and dialogue, 'No Sudden Move' just jumps out of the screen at you.
Don Cheadle gives a terrific performance as the tightly-wound career criminal Goynes, while Benicio del Toro gives a suitably weird and wonderful turn as Russo. Kieran Culkin, as evidenced in 'Succession', is able to play sleaze with ease, while David Harbour flattens himself to the point of unrecognisable for his role as the dowdy accountant at the centre of the plot. The always reliable Brendan Fraser has a great character role in this, while 'Uncut Gems' breakout Julia Fox plays the 'gangster moll' in an intriguing and unique way that speaks to a real appreciation for the genre. The eye for casting in this movie is incredible - Ray Liotta, Bill Duke, and even a cameo by Matt Damon - all of them serving a specific purpose without being flashy or showy.
It's a crying shame that 'No Sudden Move' has jumped past cinemas in favour of a home release, as some of the scenes and the score by David Holmes would no doubt incredibly benefit from a darkened cinema rather than a home setup. Still, if you can, seek out 'No Sudden Move' because the payoff is worth the stretch.