Bob Odenkirk is one of the funniest people to ever live. As part of Mr. Show with Bob and David, Odenkirk was the co-lead of the most influential sketch comedy show of the last 30 years. Sure, Odenkirk could deliver big laughs with over-the-top absurdity, but there was always a subtle everyman quality that he could employ that’d lend a sense of credibility to the absurdity. In recent years, Odenkirk has been wowing audiences as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and its equally incredible spinoff Better Call Saul. In this role, the comedy icon got a chance to really show what an incredible performer he’s been all these years, giving the boisterous character an outsized comedic presence but really finding the humanity of this tragic, broken man. (Seriously, give this man an Emmy already!). Now one of the most versatile performers of recent memory adds a new facet to his already impressive repertoire, employing his everyman quality in service of that as an unsuspecting action hero in Nobody, the raucously violent film from director Ilya Naishuller and penned by John Wick mastermind Derek Kolstad.
Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) (who I pray is named after a classic sketch) is living the suburban life. A nice suburban home with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and their two children Blake (Gage Munroe) and Abby (Paisley Cadorath). Because this film respects its audience and understand why you’re there, a really lively opening establishes Hutch’s monotonous routine. He’s got the domestic routine down pat, right down to missing trash day again. He works for father-in-law Eddie (Michael Ironside) and alongside his brother-in-law Charlie (Billy MacLellan), and he even visits his father (Christopher Lloyd) at the nursing home after work. But this mundane suburban serenity is shattered in the middle of the night when burglars enter the house. There’s a struggle. Hutch has a chance a to strike the intruder and instead concedes. This proves to be an emasculating decision. He’s mocked by the cops. He’s mocked by his neighbor. He’s mocked by his co-workers. He’s mocked by his son.
However, Hutch isn’t quite the man of gentle modesty that he projects. I don’t want to spoil the character’s backstory for you because its fun watching it unfold, but needless to say Hutch is capable of kicking plenty of ass. His wounded pride, on the other hand, gnaws at him to the point he decides to leave his cul-de-sac life to find those that dared enter is house. But he doesn’t quite find the items taken from him, instead he finds himself reintroduced to a world of violence he thought he had left behind.
Everything comes to a head on the bus ride when a bunch of drunken hooligans begin terrorizing passengers, singling out a young woman alone. Hutch decides to intervene. What ensues is a knock-down-drag-out fight, one that highlights the immense physical training Odenkirk subjected himself to in order to take the role. This brutal fight scene gives the audience just what they came for as it’s meticulously crafted action punctuated with darkly comic humor. Hutch takes his share of licks, but his opponents are left badly beaten and maimed. Rather than leave one of them to die, laying on the ground with a busted windpipe, Hutch performs an impromptu tracheotomy to save his life. There’s just one problem: Hutch just save the life of the brother of notorious Russian gangster Yulian Kuznetsov (Alexey Serebryakov). Inadvertently, Hutch has started a war.
Man with secret past. A home invasion robbery. Vengeance. The Russian mob. It’s easy to see why Nobody is going to draw ample comparisons to John Wick. Derek Kolstad created John Wick, so he’s allowed to rip himself off. However, I’d say that Kolstad’s script takes a similar idea but finds the different wrinkles to give director Ilya Naishuller the room to create a unique film in the similar mold of John Wick. Whereas Wick is a man who found peace only to have it violently taken from him, Nobody’s Hutch retains his serene lifestyle; he’s mostly robbed of his pride. That may seem like a superficial difference, but it runs much deeper in really creating different characters with different motivations, even if they are killing machines that’ve retreated to secret lives before eventually running afoul of the Russian mob.
As a fan of Bod Odenkirk’s work over the years and Derek Kolstad’s John Wick scripts, I was already pretty hyped for Nobody well ahead of its release. However, I did have a bit of apprehension because of director Ilya Naishuller. It’s not that I had strong feeling about the director one way or the other, but I really didn’t care for his debut feature, the first person shooter flick Hardcore Henry. It doesn’t take long for Naishuller to win me over. Working off of Kolstad’s strong script, Naishuller keeps the film full of kinetic energy from start to finish. The stylistic excesses and wobbly narrative that I didn’t care for in Hardcore Henry are nowhere to be found in Nobody. The young director has honed his style in Nobody but not at the expense of the film’s story. With his second feature, Ilya Naishuller has grown as a filmmaker and truly has the potential to be one of the most exciting action directors working.
There are two characters that join the fray in the film’s epic action climax, and I don’t want to give away the actors or their roles. Let me just put it this way: My jaw dropped at the brazen insanity on display, causing me to laugh and cheer at the mayhem that continually is escalating. Nobody features an instantly iconic action trio that I’d never imagine in a million a years. Now I want spinoffs and sequels with these characters and a further expansion of this movie’s underground network of badasses.
Nobody is an action flick that is firing on all cylinders. The action is impeccably choreographed and crafted with visual clarity. This is a lean, mean ass-kicking machine of a movie. Running just a hair of 90 minutes, there’s not a single unnecessary scene in Nobody. It’s not enough that Nobody features incredible car chases, fist fights, and shootouts. The film also happens to be a masterclass in sardonic humor. When the smoke has cleared and the broken bones are set, Nobody will stick with you as the kind of thrill ride a good action flick should be. Bob Odenkirk has always been funny; he’s always been a good actor; now he’s an action icon. It’s all good, man.
- Overall Score
Brimming with incredible action and a twisted sense of humor, Nobody readjust the John Wick mold to fit Bob Odenkirk as an unlikely action hero and delivers a wildly entertaining ride.