We’ve all become accustomed to action stars or tough guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sylvester Stallone. Denzel Washington. Pierce Bronson. Jean Claude Van Damme. Liam Neeson and our newest everyday action man, Bob Odenkirk? Yep. You read that right, comedy writer Bob Odenkirk of HBO’s “Mr. Show” and “You Better Call Saul” establishes himself as the next action icon in the shoot em up and blast of testosterone in “Nobody”, from the team who brought you the “John Wick” trilogy”.
“Nobody” was one of the last films to be released in theaters right before the pandemic lockdown. But with things starting to get real serious and the lockdown about to take place, I skipped out on seeing “Nobody” in theaters. Now on digital, I finally got the chance to watch Odenkirk in his first action role. Well move over John Wick, because “Nobody” is here to stay. Just as you don’t mess with John Wick’s dog, you don’t mess with Hutch’s daughter’s kitty cat bracelet.
Odenkirk is an ordinary guy named Hutch Mansell, who works as an accountant at his father-in-law’s tool shop and lives in a modest suburban house with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and their two children. The opening sequence establishes the kind of life that Hutch lives each day in a “Groundhog Day” type sequence. Going through the same routine day after day after day, including hauling out the garbage about 30 seconds too late every week.
When Hutch’s house is broken into by a couple of amateurs in the middle of the night, grabbing only a few loose dollars. Hutch gets the drop on one of the burglars with a golf club but then backs down, leading to everyone from his wife to his teenage son to the cops to his tough-talking next door neighbor to express disappointment in him.
Hutch is ready to shrug it off and live with the humiliation, until he learns the thieves made off with his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet and “You just don’t f’ing do that!”. Turns out Hutch once worked for a certain government organization as the guy you call when there’s no more talking or negotiating to be done and both the home burglary and stealing his daughters kitty cat bracelet has triggered something in him.
Behind the camera is Russian musician and filmmaker Ilya Naishuller, director of the stylish and shallow “Hardcore Henry” some years back. Naishuller has an audacious filmmaking style reminiscent of Guy Ritchie and fills his movie with elaborately choreographed gun battles including the films “Equalizer” style ending and a excellently choreographed car chase that play out to an eclectic soundtrack, featuring the music of Pat Benatar to Gerry & the Pacemakers.
“Nobody” features a script by Derek Kolstad, one of the writers behind Marvel’s “Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. Kolstad is also the writer of the “John Wick” franchise that make “Nobody” feel like an unofficial spin-off of “John Wick”, featuring vast underworld mythology and baddies with cool nicknames.
Most impressive thing about “Nobody” is Odenkirk, who is about as “everyman” as it gets. Which is precisely what the film wants you to think. Odenkirk looks and sounds nothing like an action star, but we totally believe his mild mannered everyday guy who is a simmering cauldron of rage that could take that teapot and kill you with it.
Odenkirk had trained for two years to make “Nobody” and once you see him in action mode, it’s like seeing the most natural thing in the world. Adding to the fun is Christopher Lloyd, who is cast against type as a western watching, cardigan loving, shotgun wielding grandpa and he is superb. Playing Hutch’s father, a former FBI agent living in a retirement home who’s not nearly as docile as one might believe. It’s so much fun seeing Lloyd in the role and he looks to be having a lot of fun.
“Nobody” has some great choreographed action sequences such as a fight on a bus that finds Hutch announcing, “I hope these a’holes like hospital food” before ramming their faces into steel poles and stringing up baddies in “stop” chords. The best thing about the script is that Hutch isn’t some indestructible superhero; he’s just a guy and one who is clearly out of practice. He still knows some stuff but still gets beat, too.
The bus fight includes MVP stunt-men Alain Moussi and Daniel Bernhardt, who’s been featured in the “John Wick” and “Matrix” movies. Bernhardt has co-choreographed the fights of both “John Wick” and “Nobody”. Let’s not forget David Leitch (“John Wick” choreographer and director) is also on board, so you know the action is legit. “Nobody” has over the top gunplay that requires a steady hand at the wheel and Naishuller is a skilled enough filmmaker to always make sure that audiences know where everyone is during the battles and even how much ammo they’ve got left.
Naishuller also knows how to balance the vicious brawls with a dash of humor. But none of the humor would work if it weren’t for Odenkirk who has years of comedic skill. My only issue with “Nobody” is within the villain, played by Aleksei Serebryakov. He has a great introduction and is menacing, but he just doesn’t get enough screen time and isn’t an impactful villain. He should have been built up more as a physical threat to Odenkirk.
At a lean and brisk 90 minutes we’re given little time to create that “John Wick” lived in world. Although “Nobody” isn’t any better than the three “John Wick” films put together, it’s still more fun and remains just as cool. Odenkirk maybe a nobody in this movie universe, but in my book he’s a somebody.
GRADE: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)