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No Sudden Move is a 2021 American period crime thriller film directed, photographed, and edited by Steven Soderbergh, produced by Casey Silver, and written by Ed Solomon. The film features an ensemble cast of Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, David Harbour, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig Grant (in his final appearance), Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, Ray Liotta, and Bill Duke.

No Sudden Move had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 18, 2021, and was released in the United States on July 1, 2021, by HBO Max. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Soderbergh's direction and the performances of the cast.


Plot

In 1950s Detroit, gangster Curt Goynes, in need of cash to leave town, is recruited to threaten a family as part of a blackmail scheme, along with gangsters Ronald and Charley. The recruiter, Doug Jones, sends them to the house of an accountant, Matt, where they are to hold the family hostage while sending Matt to the office where he works, to retrieve a document from his boss' safe but finds it empty. A desperate Matt brings fake documents to Doug, then returns home where Charley prepares to execute the entire family, to the surprise of Curt and Ronald. Not wanting to be part of a massacre, Curt shoots and kills Charley.

Doug phones the house, having discovered the documents are fake. He orders Curt to kill the family and Ronald. Instead, Curt and Ronald leave after Curt instructs the family to tell the police that Charley was alone and that Matt killed Charley in self defense. The police detective, Joe Finney, is skeptical of the family's story. Once the police leave, Curt, Ronald and Matt go to Matt's boss' house and retrieve the real document, which turns out to be plans for a new car part. Curt and Ronald discover they have a high bounty placed on their heads, and make plans to ascertain what the document is worth by arranging a meeting with Frank Capelli, the mob leader who contracted the blackmail scheme and with whose wife, Vanessa, Ronald is having an affair. Curt makes further arrangements with mob leader Aldrick Watkins, to take part of the eventual payment in order to clear Curt with Watkins, with whom he is on the outs.

Doug, Curt and Ronald have a meeting with Frank. Curt deduces that the value of the document vastly exceeds the amount they considered it was worth. Frank attempts to use Doug to kill Curt and Ronald, resulting in Doug's death. Frank flees, only to be caught by Curt and Ronald who extract the name of his contact. Curt calls the contact, Naismith, who works for Studebaker Automobiles, and arranges to sell him the document for $125,000. Frank escapes, but when he returns home, a battered Vanessa shoots and kills him. Seeking a bigger payday, Ronald and Curt return to Matt's boss and extract the name of the document's owner. Curt and Ronald meet with arrogant automobile industry executive "Mr. Big" at a downtown hotel, who is willing to pay $375,000 to retrieve the document. The document is revealed to be plans for a catalytic converter, seeking to conceal its existence from public knowledge and avoid governmental pressure on the car companies to implement pollution controls.

After Mr. Big leaves, Curt and Ronald attempt to split the money but are interrupted by Watkins and his men, who have already retrieved the $125,000 from Naismith. Ronald is allowed to leave with the $375,000, but Watkins takes Curt away at gunpoint. Watkins and his men are stopped outside the hotel by Detective Finney and his men, but he bribes the detective with $50,000 of the Naismith money to let them leave with Curt. Ronald flees the city with Vanessa, but when they leave the main road to avoid a potential pursuer, she kills him and claims the money for herself. As she drives away, Vanessa is stopped by a police officer who takes the money and allows her to leave. Detective Finney privately returns the money to Mr. Big, including the $31,000 added from Vanessa and the $50,000 from Watkins. Watkins leaves Curt in Kansas City with a small cut ($5,000) of the Naismith money, revealing he made a deal with him, but led Finney to believe he would be killed.

Cast

Production

It was announced in November 2019 that Steven Soderbergh would direct the film, then titled Kill Switch, with Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Sebastian Stan and John Cena in consideration to star. By March 2020, Jon Hamm and Cedric the Entertainer entered negotiations, with Brolin dropping out. In May 2020, it was announced Cheadle, Stan and Hamm were confirmed, with Benicio Del Toro, Ray Liotta, Amy Seimetz, Frankie Shaw and George Clooney joining the cast.

Filming was due to begin on April 1, 2020 but was delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Soderbergh stated he was hoping to restart in September. The film was retitled No Sudden Move, and began filming in Detroit on September 28, with David Harbour, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Bill Duke and Julia Fox joining the cast, while actors Stan, Cena and Clooney departed due to production delays. In October, Matt Damon was added to the cast in a cameo role. Production wrapped on November 12.

Release

No Sudden Move had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 18, 2021. It was released on HBO Max on July 1, 2021. According to Samba TV, the film was watched by 567,000 households over its first four days.

Reception

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film reports an approval rating of 90% based on 92 reviews with an average rating of 7.6/10. The site's critics consensus reads, "While it may not be on par with his best crime capers, No Sudden Move finds Soderbergh on entertainingly familiar ground—and making the most of an excellent cast." According to Metacritic, which assigned a weighted average score of 77 out of 100 based on 36 critics, the film received "generally favorable reviews".

Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and wrote, "Another instantly immersive, richly layered and beautifully shot chapter in one of the most impressive directing careers of our time." Writing for The A.V. Club, Mike D'Angelo gave the film a "B+" grade, calling it a "twisty new caper" said: "Movies routinely place characters in desperate, life-or-death situations, but rarely do we see them behave in a genuinely desperate way. No Sudden Move, a period crime drama written by Ed Solomon and directed by Steven Soderbergh, corrects this oversight in a way that's at once hilarious and distressing."

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