No Sudden Move: Lens Choices Don’t Work Well

JON HAMM as Joe Finney in HBO Max and Warner Bros. Pictures’ crime drama NO SUDDEN MOVE. © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Steven Soderbergh is back with the Ed Solomon-scripted No Sudden Move but the lens choices are distracting to watch on a flat screen.

On paper, this sounds like a fine film. In terms of execution, there are some rather distracting decisions being made. The lens choices just didn’t work with regards to home viewing. When they moved the dolly in order to follow the movement, it made for some distractions when the picture moved. It was like watching the film through another piece of glass or something. I usually like Soderbergh films but if one is going to make a film for home viewing, the behind-the-camera decisions need to reflect this. And when it comes to No Sudden Move, these decisions are an epic fail. Maybe it would work on a curved big screen but it does not work on a flat screen. That much, I can assure you! Mind you, there’s so many characters appearing on screen in two hours to where it’s hard to keep up with the plot.

No Sudden Move is a period film that takes us back to Detroit in the mid-1950s. Curt Goynes (Don Cheadle), Ronald Russo (Benicio Del Toro) and Charley Barnes (Kieran Culkin) are a part of a three-man operation hired by a guy named Jones (Brendan Fraser). Jones wants them to babysit Matt Wertz’s (David Harbour) family while Matt retrieves a document from the office. Easier said than done because the document isn’t there and of course, they have to improvise on the job. To nobody’s surprise, this certainly does not go well! Beyond this, we have no clue who Jones is working for. Curt and Ronald end up going on a tour through Detroit’s underbelly meeting all sorts of figures. Among them, Frank Capelli (Ray Liotta), his wife Vanessa (Julia Fox) and mentioned-but-not-seen Aldrick Watkins (Bill Duke).

Meanwhile, State Police Detective Joe Finney (Jon Hamm) soon finds himself working the case. He also blurs lines in the process. All in all, there are so many people in this film so I wish you best of luck in keeping up with everyone. One actor makes a cameo, which also comes as no surprise. Loyalties change. Double-crossing takes place. All because of one document!

One thing that works well for the film is shooting in Detroit. You can’t just recreate 1950s Detroit in Atlanta if you know what I mean. Nor is this a film where you can just shoot all the exteriors on a Hollywood backlot. It would certainly lose the authentic feeling.

It’s getting a release at The Landmark in LA’s Westwood neighborhood. One wonders if it will play differently in a theater than with all the distractions that come with watching at home. The distracting lens work, too. I understand why Soderbergh went with the lens for the old-school feel but it didn’t come off that way at home. Soderbergh movies are generally big screen films and Landmark aside, this is a streaming release. It feels every bit of its nearly two hour run time. Again, maybe it’s because of watching at home and missing out on the theatrical experience. No Sudden Move fares rather well with the 50s noirs that inspired the look but again, there are some frustrating decisions behind the camera.

DIRECTOR: Steven Soderbergh
CAST: Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, David Harbour, with Ray Liotta, Jon Hamm, Amy Seimetz, Brendan Fraser, Kieran Culkin, Noah Jupe, Craig muMs Grant, Julia Fox, Frankie Shaw, and Bill Duke

Warner Bros. releases No Sudden Move at The Landmark and on HBO Max on July 1, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.