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There’s an effortlessness to the way Steven Soderbergh approaches his crime stories, be they delightful heist pictures like the Ocean’s trilogy or something a little bleaker like his latest, No Sudden Move. However many moving pieces they utilize — and boy does this one have a whole lot of them — there’s always simplicity to the scheme. Some folks want money, other folks want documents, things should go swimmingly, and yet they do not. Set in Detroit in 1954, it follows a crew led by Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle), whose seemingly simple heist job of course goes wrong. The story moves casually through double-cross after double-cross, never making one feel grander than necessary. It’s a testament to both Soderbergh and writer Ed Solomon that the film never feels like it’s overplaying its hand; its humor and critiques of capitalism and institutional racism are not exactly subtle, but nowhere near heavy-handed.

Wide shots and a great sense of pacing energize what could just be a series of conversations in various rooms into something dynamic and often playful (especially when familiar faces from Soderbergh’s regular stable of collaborators pop on screen, no spoilers as to whom). Sleek, cool, and a welcome showcase for its ensemble, No Sudden Move makes all other recent attempts at noir throwbacks (like the overwhelmingly dull and self-serious Motherless Brooklyn) feel unnecessary.

No Sudden Move is now available on HBO Max.

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Juan Barquin

Juan Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. You can follow them...

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