Synopsis – A bystander who intervenes to help a woman being harassed by a group of men becomes the target of a vengeful drug lord.
My Take – With the promotional material focusing on the fact that this film comes from the makers of the ‘John Wick‘ franchise, it is easy enough to know what to expect – a fun action romp with elaborate but gritty fight sequences. However, instead of lean and mean star with expected action chops, the film stars dad bod possessing Bob Odenkirk, a longtime comedy character actor who suddenly rose to fame playing by Saul Goodman, the sleazy lawyer first in the AMC series, Breaking Bad and then its spin-off, Better Call Saul, cast against type, going brutal on unsuspecting Russian gangsters.
Resulting in a film that is as visceral and smashing as it ludicrous and bonkers, and it is every bit the flashy and vigorously violent film you’d expect to match its enormously high body count. Not that you’d be able to count everybody that’s been king hit, maimed, exploded and shot when all’s said and done.
Sure, the script by Derek Kolstad leaves you wanting a bit more, as if the 92 minute affair left out a story element or two that would have tied together everything better, and is much lighter than any of the ‘John Wick‘ films, yet, director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry), earns brownies for deriving a lot of its comedy through the action itself, making this a funny and action packed thrill ride that is a bit excessive, but glorious indeed.
The story follows Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a seemingly-lame suburban dad drained of his life force by the drudgery of the daily grind – tapping his transport card, going to a unhappy job working for his father-in-law (Michael Ironside), missing the bin collection, barely being acknowledged by his kids and sleeping next to his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen), but with a pillow in between them. Things get worse for him when a pair of burglars break into his house and assault his teenage son, Blake (Gage Munroe), yet Hutch takes a path of inaction and lets them get away, become a wimp in everybody’s eye.
But Hutch has a secret, or at least a secret identity under that repressed rage. And when he finds out that a bracelet belonging to his younger daughter, Sammy Mansell (Paisley Cadorath), may have been a casualty in the botched robbery, a fury with no bounds is unleashed. A blood-lust which is satisfied only after he leaves some Russian mobsters who happened upon the bus he’s riding, in the hospital. Unfortunately for Hutch’s current life, one of those young men happened to be the brother of Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), a powerful Russian drug lord, who immediately vows for revenge.
From there on, it is pretty standard action film fare. As Yulian’s men pay a visit to Hutch’s house, and Hutch unleashes the full power of his background. The henchman try to get to Hutch through his elderly father, David Mansell (Christopher Lloyd), but that doesn’t go well for them either. All for setting the two for an epic confrontation.
Sure, the setting feels familiar, after all, except a few plot points, the film is almost a replicate of the first John Wick film, thankfully director Ilya Naishuller really sells the whole set up well, as it seamlessly transitions Odenkirk’s Hutch from a downtrodden every man to badass action superstar.
The action scenes are balletic, graphic and as vicious as you would expect it to be. There are several high-impact action sequences, especially the one that involves the tight confines of a public bus and Hutch shattering a handful of thugs with little more than his hands, a knife and his environment
Even though the level of violence is outlandish, the abrasive action makes it feel much weightier. Of course, the gun fights come later, but they’re never able to match the heart-in-your-throat feeling of that bus scene. There are also some running gags that work really well, both on an immediate situational level and also as self-aware jabs at the film itself.
But even with the teaming up of director Naishuller, writer Kolstad and David Leitch producing, the reason that film stands out as a memorable and immensely enjoyable film much comes down to Bob Odenkirk and his performance. Odenkirk is fantastic in the role, playing it straight, giving the character nuance and trusting that the sheer fact that he seems so unlikely as the lead in this kind of film lends a disarming level of comedy but that he’s also a good enough actor to be surprisingly credible. Odenkirk may look like a middle-aged dude who couldn’t beat up a sixth grader, but when he gets his killer groove on, damn. Car chases, bombings, and broken jaws ensue.
There are some fun supporting appearances from Christopher Lloyd and RZA, while Connie Nielsen gets very little to do as Hutch’s wife, Colin Salmon as The Barber is pleasantly stylish. The only other cast members who get to shine almost as sequel to Odenkirk is Aleksei Serebryakov who plays the dangerous Russian gangster to the tee. On the whole, ‘Nobody’ is a wild action thriller that makes for a thoroughly satisfying addition to the genre.
Directed – Ilya Naishuller
Rated – R
Run Time – 92 minutes