No Sudden Move: professional work [critique]

While we no longer give the skin of the American “mid-budget” cinema, Steven Soderbergh wraps up a succulent little gangster film, as if we were still in the 90s. Something like the B side of Hors d ‘ reached.

Released in the United States on HBO Max, No Sudden Move is broadcast in France on Canal Plus, this Wednesday, September 8 (at 9:07 p.m.), and available on MyCanal

The pitch imagined by Steven soderbergh for No Sudden Move was minimalist type: “Three men who do not know each other are hired for a contract, but nothing goes as planned.“To flesh out the case, the director ofOcean’s Eleven enlisted the help of Ed Solomon, screenwriter of Men in Black and of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, with whom he had already worked on the HBO series Mosaic. Solomon had the idea of ​​snooping around the Detroit side of the year 1954, to wrap around Soderbergh’s subway ticket argument a whole web of socio-cultural speculation, involving the racial issue in 1950s Michigan, the monstrous ramifications of organized crime and the omnipotence of big business in America. Then all that remained was to summon a handful of actor buddies (Don Cheadle and Benicio del Toro in the lead, as well as a guest star not credited in the credits, so shhh …), a whole bunch of beloved faces for the roles secondary (David Harbor, Kieran Culkin, Brendan Fraser, Ray Liotta, Julia Fox, Bill Duke … a festival), to ask the faithful David Holmes to compose a heady score, and behold, packed as usual in record time (it’s the fourth Soderbergh we’ve seen in two years), a perfect little Saturday night thriller. The genre that pushes film critics to lament the disappearance of so-called “middle-class” American films. Rather than lament their loss, Soderbergh continues to shoot where it is still possible to do so – in this case, on the HBO Max platform.


It is undoubtedly because this category of films has become a rare commodity that the establishment of No Sudden Move provides such a monstrous pleasure. The “three guys who don’t know each other“(Cheadle, del Toro and Culkin) were charged by Mafia middlemen with”to babysit“(understand: hold a nice American family hostage in all respects) while the paterfamilias (David Harbor) is forced to search for a mysterious document in his boss’s safe. Everything works: the impressionist way in which the context is set, the nasty dialogues, the feline movements of Benicio del Toro … Even the masks that the gangsters wear during their raid. Hostage house look particularly cool.


Soderbergh’s choice to use lenses that distort the image on the sides is certainly a somewhat strange stylistic coquetry, a visual distraction that we would have done without. On the other hand, we are grateful to him for never turning his film into a commentary on the genre. No postmodern overhang here. Soderbergh is content, hallelujah, to tell a good story of criminals who stab each other in the back and try to survive in a world without mercy. Because the action is set in Detroit, and because the ghost of Elmore Leonard is lurking around, we think of Out of reach, of which No Sudden Move would be upside down, stripped of the glamorous and sexy varnish. After the first act so delicious, it is a series of dirty tricks, various betrayals and scenario pitfalls that give the film the appearance of a puzzle, starting from a very small point on the map to ultimately reveal a vast panorama of American crime. Upon arrival, once the plan is revealed as a whole, Soderbergh and Solomon’s desire to connect all the points of their puzzle plot together and to ensure that the viewer has understood the message correctly (because, yes, it is also a film with message) disappoints almost a little, as one can be disappointed by certain Coen with the mechanics too perfect, too oiled. But difficult to be choosy. It’s still professional work.

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