THE STORY – A bystander who intervenes to help a woman being harassed by a group of men becomes the target of a vengeful drug lord.
THE CAST – Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, RZA, Aleksei Serebryakov & Christopher Lloyd
THE TEAM – Ilya Naishuller (Director) & Derek Kolstad (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 92 Minutes
By Matt Neglia
Bob Odenkirk is currently enjoying the peak of his career. After the success of “Breaking Bad,” the “Mr. Show” star was granted the opportunity to lead the spin-off series “Better Call Saul,” which has resulted in nine Emmy nominations for the actor and a ton of critical acclaim for his performance as the titular character. Such praise has previously led to him being cast as a supporting role in movies such as “The Post” and “Little Women,” but now he has finally been given a headlining role in director Ilya Naishuller’s follow-up to his 2015 film “Hardcore Henry” with “Nobody.” It’s a high-octane, adrenaline-pumping, and ferocious action movie, and you may be thinking that Odenkirk isn’t the first person you would immediately think of to lead a film such as this, but after actually watching it, nobody will be saying that anymore.
Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) is just a regular nobody. He wakes up, goes to work, comes home to his wife and son, and that is it. Nothing to see here! That is until, one night, there is a break-in at his house. Afforded with the opportunity to use violence to protect his family, Hutch opts not to. Even though the family ends up safe, Hutch’s wife and son are incredibly disappointed in him. This sets off a chain reaction within Hutch that re-awakens his mysteriously bloody past. All of the simmering rage and disappointment he has held onto for all of these years finally unleashes out on a brutal war-path, resulting in the provocation of a Russian drug lord (Aleksei Serebryakov) who then seeks his own revenge against Hutch and those he cares about. However, this time, Hutch is not holding back.
With quick bursts of flashy editing during even the more mundane sequences, Naishuller shows us Hutch’s everyday life with a level of energy that matches the more bloody and bullet sprayed action scenes that will certainly come later. The style is very reminiscent of director Edgar Wright’s works, as Naishuller’s visuals are often accompanied by a lively soundtrack that draws us in with the kinetic filmmaking. At 92 minutes long, the film never slogs or loses its momentum. It may not be the most original story in the world, but the film is held together by its inspired casting of Odenkirk in the unassuming but badass lead role.
Odenkirk delivers a weathered but tough performance that is definitely cast against type. Still, it works in his favor for the type of story Naishuller and screenwriter Derek Kolstad (who wrote all of the “John Wick” films) are trying to tell. You take one initial look at this man, and you don’t immediately think he’s a one-person wrecking machine. You take a look at him, and you think, “That’s a good man. That’s a family man.” However, he’s a man that can turn violent in a flash, as proven in one absolutely insane fight sequence which takes place within the confines of a bus. Hutch decides to take on multiple thugs at once to protect a woman who they’re preying upon, but it’s so much more than that. Something has re-awoken in Hutch that has been sleeping for so long. For too long, he’s been misunderstood, underestimated, and unappreciated. No more. The scene is messy and chaotic in its choreography, but it hits hard with a tremendous amount of impact that will have audiences begging for more. Credit should also be given to the fact that Hutch is not some invincible force like John Wick is portrayed to be in his films. Hutch takes as much of a beating as he dishes out, adding a believability level to the action scenes considering Odenkirk is not some fitness freak in real life. And as he’s proven on “Better Call Saul,” Odenkirk has a lot of range as an actor. So while it’s easy to believe him as the average every-man who would never get caught up in the situations that this character eventually finds himself in, you also equally believe his tough-guy posturing and intimidating presence.
Supporting turns are not that memorable for the most part outside of veteran actor Christopher Lloyd, who plays Hutch’s father. He may live in a nursing home, but the eighty-something-year-old man has a few tricks up his sleeve too in backing his son against a horde of criminals who wish to see them all dead. Because his involvement is completely unexpected, it results in some of the movie’s best and most fun moments. The same cannot be said for standard Russian villain 101, Yulian Kuznetsov, played by “Leviathan” actor Aleksei Serebryakov or for Connie Nielson, who plays Hutch’s wife or RZA. The screenplay doesn’t give them enough to work with, but some may get further development should a sequel be green-lit.
Maybe it’s pointless to be so picky when the real attraction for “Nobody” is seeing Bob Odenkirk tear through waves of bad guys. On that front, “Nobody” delivers. Naishuller’s action is coherent, violent, and exactly the kind of mainstream entertainment that has been missing from cinemas over the past year. There may be tropes that we’ve seen in other action films before it, but there’s no denying that “Nobody” skillfully utilizes Odenkirk to toy with our expectations and, thus, over-delivers on a bone-crunching and blood-soaked piece of action filmmaking.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Bob Odenkirk play against type and it works in his favor as an unlikely one-man wrecking machine. The action by “Hardcore Henry” director Ilya Naishuller is chaotically well choreographed, bloody and fun!