Wayne Health assists on the set of ‘No Sudden Move’

June 28, 2021

“Don Cheadle says Detroit ‘absolutely a character’ after filming ‘No Sudden Move'” from Detroit Free Press

There are important themes embedded in “No Sudden Move” — things like corporate greed and racism — that don’t necessarily make for a slick, diverting thriller.

But Don Cheadle says what he loves about the movie is that weighty matters are “part and parcel” of the dangerous schemes that unfold in this engrossing crime saga set in 1954 Detroit and shot last year in the Motor City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In each storyline, there is someone above these main characters who is pulling their strings … How’s it going to work? Can we run game on this dude, or are we just going to be at the behest of whatever this powerful person wants to do to us?,” says the 56-year-old actor and Marvel franchise star.

“Throughout each of these characters’ storylines, I feel like we’re all on the track and the cars start, and we hit the third turn and cars start colliding into each other. Who’s going to get out of this and cross the finish line, if anybody?”

“No Sudden Move” is quite the stylish ride for a gritty demolition derby of double-crossings and deceit. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (who worked with Cheadle on the “Ocean’s 11” franchise and another Detroit-filmed caper, the 1998 hit “Out of Sight”), the film debuts July 1 on HBO Max. It’s a visually gorgeous period piece that’s reminiscent of classic Hollywood film noir in its look and witty cynicism.

Some of the dialogue will make you laugh out loud during tense moments. In one scene, a white-collar auto industry employee beats up his superior at the company as he simultaneously apologizes and insists that he loves his job. In Soderbergh’s deft hands, there’s a fine line between desperation and existential absurdity.

Cheadle stars as Curt Goynes, an ex-con who’s in trouble with both the Black and Italian crime syndicates of Eisenhower-era Detroit. Hired by a menacing tough guy (Brendan Fraser) who is a proxy for an unknown power broker, Goynes is tasked with baby-sitting the family of a GM accountant (David Harbour of Netflix’s “Stranger Things”) while he is being forced to remove an unidentified document from an office safe.

What seems like a simple job turns horribly wrong, plunging Goynes and another small-time crook on the assignment, Richard Russo (Benicio Del Toro), into a cat-and-mouse game that involves criminal kingpins (Ray Liotta and Bill Duke), a detective from an organized crime task force (Jon Hamm), and more — all fighting for control of a bunch of papers linked to a high-stakes conspiracy with roots in real-life history that aren’t revealed until the very end.

The screenplay by Ed Solomon (“Now You See It”) weaves a portrait of Detroit run by bosses on both side of the law; where auto executives and high-ranking mobsters carry what Cheadle calls “the big stick;” and where racial divides are about to worsen with urban renewal, which one character describes as “more like Negro removal.”

It’s a complex narrative that, according to Cheadle, could have been made in only one city.

“Detroit is absolutely a character in this movie and I think it permeates everything that happens. There are certain movies you can shoot them anywhere…This one had to be in Detroit. It’s about Detroit. It’s about the industry that fueled Detroit. It’s about what happened when that industry decided that it was more important than the people.”

Production was poised to begin here in mid-March 2020, just when the COVID-19 lockdown arrived. Filming was postponed until late September, when Soderbergh — who remained committed to coming to the Motor City — and his team started working under the strict safety protocols he helped develop for film and TV projects.

For Cheadle, this was his first job requiring major travel during the quarantine.

“I was honestly very reticent to do it,” he admits. “At the time, the numbers weren’t great in Michigan and I was very concerned about (spreading the virus to) family members….Steven and I went back and forth a lot about, ‘How are we going to do this? What does it actually mean to be on a set? What’s it look like?’ There was no model before that.”

Soderbergh’s involvement helped him get past his initial reluctance. Cheadle explains: “Outside of the nervous-making aspect of working in that environment, having someone like Steven who is, in the best ways, very granular about these things and very anal — like, thank you! The dude who brought us ‘Contagion’ is probably not going to let an outbreak …happen on his watch.”

Indeed, Soderbergh and his group of nearly 300 actors and crew members — more than half of them local — were successful in staying safe through mid-November when production wrapped.

The director told the Free Press the day before the production ended that only one person had tested positive for COVID-19 to his knowledge, and it was someone unconnected to the physical shooting of the movie.

Before filming, Soderbergh consulted with experts like Larry Brilliant, a renowned epidemiologist and native Detroiter and Wayne State University medical school alum who had advised him on “Contagion,” the 2011 thriller about a deadly virus that eerily presaged the pandemic.

The movie also hired Wayne State’s Dr. Phillip Levy, who was involved in COVID-19 testing programs for Wayne Health, a 300-doctor group practice. Medical staffers from Wayne Health handled the regularly required testing for cast and crew members, using mobile testing units to reach various locations.

To show his appreciation to Detroit, Soderbergh made a personal donation to Wayne Health of two new mobile labs. “It seems honestly like a really good way to contribute to the community, so that we weren’t just coming here and sort of extracting something without giving anything in return,” the director told the Free Press in November.

Read the full article “Don Cheadle says Detroit ‘absolutely a character’ after filming ‘No Sudden Move'” from Detroit Free Press

Learn more about the Wayne Health Mobile Unit.

Make an appointment with a Wayne Health provider.

Wayne Health assists on the set of ‘No Sudden Move’
Back to News & Media