Every once in awhile a movie comes along that makes you think about something you never would have. Have I ever been interested in cars or how environmental standards have changed for cars over the years? Absolutely not. Somehow Steven Soderbergh found a way to weave a story about auto-makers and criminals together. The synopsis for No Sudden Move goes like this:

Set in 1954 Detroit, No Sudden Move centers on a group of small-time criminals who are hired to steal what they think is a simple document. When their plan goes horribly wrong, their search for who hired them – and for what ultimate purpose – weaves them through all echelons of the race-torn, rapidly changing city.

The story of the film follows a wide range of characters that eventually all converge in one plot. It stars Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, David Harbour, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Jon Hamm, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig muMs Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, with Ray Liotta and Bill Duke. Ed Solomon handled the screenplay.

If a cast like that doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will. In the pantheon of crime/mob thrillers, No Sudden Move deserves a spot. Through a fantastically simple, yet complex in the end, story and excellent performances from Cheadle, Harbour, and Del Toro, you get a film that stands up as one of the best of 2021.

A Web Of Mystery, Tension, And Crime

We start off small with No Sudden Move. Curt (Cheadle), Russo (Del Toro), and Charley (Kieran Culkin) are hired for a small-time robbery by Doug Jones (Brendan Fraser). The ensuing robbery is one of the best scenes in the movie. Jones goes off to wait for the package’s delivery, and the other three men have to rob a family for a document. The Wertz Family (David Harbour, Amy Seimetz, Noah Jupe, and Lucy Holt) are readying for their day when the men break into their house with guns and masks.

It’s a tense, yet awkward situation that only Soderbergh could pull off well. You have banter between the three men and the Wertz family. In the end, Charley takes Matt (Harbour) to grab the document from his work. At this point in the film, the mystery deepens and the plot gets thicker and thicker. Matt is cheating on his wife with his secretary and they’re planning on leaving with one another. His secretary is the only one who knows the combination to the green safe that holds our sacred document.

So what you end up with is an exasperated Matt trying to keep his cool under this situation. All the while, Curt and Russo have to keep the family calm and under control. I won’t spoil the rest, but this small robbery leads to a bigger conspiracy involving auto companies, organized crime, and more love triangles. One act in this opening section sets the whole plot forward with someone’s murder.

Not A Bad Performance In Sight

For a movie with such a huge and varied cast, each person gives their absolute best here. Cheadle and Del Toro both provide cool, calm, and tension releasing moments of the film. Any time the film feels like it’s going to explode, one of them gives that little bit of release for the audience. Whether it’s Del Toro putting a blanket over someone’s head that they’re holding captive, so he can take his mask off and watch TV or it’s Cheadle giving us a moment to fully recognize the plot, no beats are wasted here.

Noah Jupe and Lucy Holt hold their own in scenes featuring heavyweights of acting. The two female leads on the film, Amy Seimetz, and Julia Fox (Vanessa Capelli) are both fantastic at grounding the film and in Fox’s case, providing a thread between the various storylines.

The standout performance is from David Harbour however. He’s not the main focus of the film, but every scene he’s in is just show-stealing. Whether it’s him acting tough to his boss to get the document, “This is a punch, I’m going to punch you now”, or trying to show that he didn’t chicken out on telling his wife that he’s leaving her, he’s a rock in this film.

The last two performances I want to speak on, are both small, but they left an impact: Bill Duke‘s turn as Aldrick Watkins and Brendan Fraser‘s role as Doug Jones. Duke isn’t in many scenes, but when he is, you can’t help but stare. The 80’s action heavy commands the screen in a way similar to Marcellus Wallace from Pulp Fiction. You don’t hear much about his character, but it definitely leaves an impact. Fraser returns to film with this movie, and in the short time he’s on screen, you can see why he was a box-office star before. Hopefully it leads to more roles for him, because he deserves it.

Some Weird Camera Choices And Storyline Gripes Don’t Detract Too Much

There are only a couple of detractions I have from No Sudden Move. When the film breaks off into the various parts of each character’s story, it loses a bit of focus. You have so many storylines going on, that it only makes full sense when the film is over. Outside of that, there are some strange choices with camera work including some scenes with fish-eye lenses that take you out of the experience for the scenes that they’re used.

These things are small, and like I said, the film wraps up all the stories nicely, that the audience shouldn’t have many questions after the film is over. Through it all, No Sudden Move tells a story that seems small, but ends up wide-ranging and deep. It’s one of corporate greed, organized crime, and mystery. If you’re in the mood for some drama and crime, No Sudden Move is the one to watch. It’s one of the best of 2021 so far.

You can watch No Sudden Move right now on HBO Max.

For more on movie news, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.