“Nobody” Movie Review


     If you went in to director Ilya Naishuller’s “Nobody” without knowledge the film is written and produced by “John Wick” scribe Derek Kolstad, it would only take a few minutes to make the obvious connection.  Featuring the action film debut of “Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk in another Liam Neeson like later in life attempt at playing a would be family man who possesses a “particular set of skills”, Naishuller’s flick follows the common tropes of the sub genre which predictably force a once lethal killing machine back into action.

     At its core, “Nobody” tells a story we’ve seen so many times before.  Think Schwarzenegger’s Harry Tasker in “True Lies”, but with a twist.  Here, the events depicted are triggered when a pair of would be burglars invade the quiet home and family of Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a mild mannered business manager whose daily routine is infused wth the monotony of life.  From our point of view, everything appears normal, as he provides for his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen), and two children, Blake (Gage Munroe) and Abby (Paisley Cadorath) while carrying himself in a manner that projects today’s typical father and husband.  

     But then he is awakened.  As he confronts the two burglars in the dark of night, one of them points a gun in his face, seemingly freezing him and any hope for a reaction with the golf club he grabbed on the way down stairs.  Suddenly out of nowhere, Blake tackles the other burglar to the ground and mounts an offense, forcing the one with a gun to turn away from Hutch and open a window for him to strike with the golf club.  Only he doesn’t, allowing for them to again gain the upper hand and fend off Blake, while completing their minor heist by taking a few dollars and Hutch’s watch.  

     The aftermath has the family questioning why Hutch didn’t take care of business, an answer of particular importance to Blake since he received a black eye from a straight right courtesy of one of the thieves. And it’s at that point something changes, as if old wounds have suddenly reopened.  A visit to his father’s home and a closet where a few items of his past reside, catapult the story into overdrive, as we quickly learn Hutch isn’t exactly a nobody.  But he’s rusty and needs to get his edge back.  After a night of detective work leads to the location of the burglars who started this whole mess in the first place, what better way to get those juices flowing again than to pick a fight with a gang of lowlifes?

     When five drunk guys join him on the bus he’s riding home and begin harassing the other passengers, he subtly asks the driver and other people to step outside as he focuses his attention squarely on the group of thugs.  In brutal and systematic fashion, Hutch dispatches each one of them with an array of elbows, knees, and knife techniques, all within the close quarters of a city bus.  Unfortunately, one of the guys he nearly kills is the son of a Russian mob boss, which means payback is likely going to find him.

     Of course, what does every film like this need? A menacing villain who demonstrates the kind of nefarious actions necessary for us to believe he is indeed a worthy adversary for our hero to go up against.  Enter Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov), the aforementioned Russian, who in addition to his fear inducing tactics, oversees a massive operation that secures the money and financial nest eggs of organized crime types all over the world.  With him, he brings an army of highly trained operatives where ever he goes, all while taking the time to get on stage at his club and sing karaoke!  A true psychopath, he’s an interesting guy to say the least, and he’s not happy with Hutch.

     But who is Hutch exactly?  And why are both his father, David (a scene stealing Christopher Lloyd), and his brother, Harry (RZA), imploring him to stand down and avoid falling back into a life we are led to believe he long ago left behind?  There’s a point in “Nobody” where much of this becomes clear, as Naishuller opts for a third act containing enough stylized gun play and hardcore beatdowns that would even make John Woo proud.  But again, much of this is owed to the established templates of the “John Wick” films along with the success of older action stars in films like “Taken” and “Red”.  

     And not only does Naishuller and Kolstad set things up for an inevitable sequel, they have effectively created a worthy action hero in Odenkirk’s Hutch.  Not so much in that he is relatable, but rather believable in the manner he handles his business.  Never once do we suspect he’s invincible, especially considering the amount of damage he takes and the convenient luck that comes his way in several key situations.  But the overall arc of the character leaves the audience wanting to know more, whether that be in a sequel that furthers his exploits now that his family is aware who they are actually living with, or by way of a prequel exploring his off book government past.  And that’s when you know you really have something.  The audience watches your film, and the initial reaction sees them asking for more.