Disclaimer: The following article includes details of the entire HBO Max movie “No Sudden Move”. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, we suggest you read this review or story about how the movie turned out instead. Then come back after seeing the movie.

For a film called “No Sudden Move”, Steven Soderbergh’s new noir thriller does a lot of zigzags and sudden zaggings.

Keeping track of all the double and triple crossovers among the large cast of characters from the Maze Heist movie, now airing on HBO Max, requires special attention.

Even so, at times you might get a bit lost in the ever-growing web of deception and corruption that the film’s two petty criminals find themselves in, Curtis Goynes (Don Cheadle) and Ronald Russo (Benicio del Toro).

If you do, don’t feel bad. Soderbergh and screenwriter Ed Solomon planned it that way from the start.

“When we first met, Steven said, ‘Let’s make a movie where sometimes you don’t find out anything about a character much later, where you don’t learn the story until you need it,” says Solomon. “As a member of the audience, I like having to bend over to fill in the gaps. I think there is more poetry this way.

After being reunited with another petty con artist (Kieran Culkin) to steal a document from the office of a lower executive in the auto industry, Goynes and Russo set out on a winding journey through the racially polarized 1954 Detroit to find out who hired them for the job and why, navigating a perilous path between rival gangs and entrenched business interests.

For much of the film, neither they nor the audience even know what the document is – a familiar trope of the noir genre, which often uses this genre of MacGuffin as a springboard for action.

In the film’s final act, all dimensions of the ploy are finally brought into focus, and what at first seemed like the story of a minor heist gone wrong turns out to be a sprawling tale of power, systemic racism and of corporate greed.

The document Goynes and Russo pilfered contains plans for a catalytic converter, an innovation that will allow cars to emit less pollution. Major automakers – led by a dark Mr. Big played, in an unbilled cameo, by Matt Damon – have orchestrated the theft of the plans to try and keep them from falling into the wrong hands.

Before the end credits, text scrolls across the screen explaining that years later the government sued major automakers for conspiring to cover up evidence of car pollution and deliberately withholding converter technology. catalytic.

If that’s true, you might wonder if everything we just saw really happened?

Well no. The Department of Justice has denounced the four major automobile manufacturers for having conspired from 1953 to 1969 to delay the manufacture and installation of pollution control devices in their cars. But the rest is just fiction.

“There are distant parallels to real people, and references to things like the Purple Gang and various other elements of Detroit are real,” says Solomon, who has done extensive research and consulted with experts on this period of the Motor City history. “But the characters of Don and Benicio are completely fictional. It’s not based on a true story, but the backdrop contains real events.

Another all-too-real element of this backdrop concerns the destruction during this period of the once thriving black middle-class neighborhoods of Detroit, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, which are referenced in the film and give Cheadle’s character a additional moral weight.

“This whole part of town, Black Bottom and Paradise Valley, they just destroyed it,” Soderbergh says. “They just made these highways multi-lane. The before and after images are deeply infuriating.

Turning to Detroit, the scars of this dark chapter in the city’s racial history were inevitable, Cheadle says.

“I remember when we got to Detroit, pulling off the main road and diving into a neighborhood and seeing a pack of dogs right in the middle of the street,” he says. “Those houses where there had been multigenerational families thriving – it was just gone. In some of the areas we filmed, one in four houses contained someone and the rest was devastation and plague.

As the fictional embodiment of big business greed, Damon delivers some of the juiciest lines in the film, coldly bragging about his ability to generate ever greater wealth: “It’s like a lizard’s tail.” . I work, it grows. I sleep, it grows.

Solomon knew he had to pull off Damon’s big monologue if the film was to have the thematic weight that he and Soderbergh wanted.

“I didn’t know who the actor would be but I knew he would be a great actor who would come for a few days,” he says. “The bar Steven set was pretty high. It was no small task to think about it and then write a scene worthy of an actor like that.

As for the final destinies of Goynes and Russo, again things do not go as one might have expected.

Russo is betrayed and killed by the femme fatale of a mafia woman (played by Julia Fox) with whom he is having an affair. Goynes loses the big score he hoped for, but Bill Duke’s gang leader Aldrick Watkins gives him a reprieve so he can leave Detroit for a new life in Kansas City.

There is no happy ending for these two little crooks, no resolution in which they become friends and beat the system. In the end, as in the beginning, they are filled with mistrust of each other and of everyone around them, a mistrust clearly justified in the dark and murky world that Soderbergh and Solomon have created.

“No Sudden Move” is, after all, a film noir. As its slogan says, “Confidence is a configuration”.

“We didn’t want to fall into the trap of one or the other learning something great,” Soderbergh says. “There was no universe that I was going to have a scene where someone expresses some kind of evolution or enlightenment. The understanding they come to is that they need each other. But it’s different. Need has nothing to do with desire or desire. Need is a primitive and bare thing.

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