Nothing fills a movie full of righteous fire more than that ignited by ‘the revenger’. Perhaps your daughter has been Taken? Revenge! Maybe some horrible man put down your puppy? You go, John Wick!
At first glance Nobody, starring Bob Odenkirk as former intelligence agency ‘auditor’ Hutch Mansell, would seem to heat seal itself into that mould. You go, Hutch! You go and fight tooth and nail to get back your…daughter’s kitty cat bracelet?
What sets Nobody apart is how strongly it leans into the mundane in the first act. Whereas Bryan Mills and John Wick were quickly established as deadly men trying to stay out of their past violent lives, Hutch is simply living that mid-life crisis grind.
A collection of routine scenes edited into a slowly increasing clip of mundanity highlight Hutch as stagnant and unhappy. Coffee / breakfast / forget to take out the trash / work / home to an uncommunicative family / in bed with a distant wife. Something has to change, right?
Spurred by an emasculating home invasion where Hutch’s teenage son is punched in the face and his young daughter’s bracelet goes missing, Hutch goes on the revenge trail. Yet even this is undercut by his unsuccessful confrontation with the down-and-out burglars.
Director Ilya Naishuller keeps the simmering resentment barely contained until Hutch finds the perfect excuse to boil over when some drunk and loud men board his bus.
Nobody burns brightly once the violence kicks in. The John Wick series prides itself on exquisitely choreographed fight scenes but, as the subsequent visceral bus battle breaks bones and sprays blood across your screen, Nobody deploys its choreography with glorious cackling glee.
It helps that Odenkirk (Undone) is hardly rippling with muscles or gymnastic ability. He is every bit the middle-aged down and out nobody, until he switches on and grabs whatever is closest to hand.
Of course, one of his victims on the bus happens to be related to a nasty Russian gangster and so repercussions reap repercussions and down the ever-escalating rabbit hole of payback we go.
This does make Nobody a movie of two halves though. Once fists are thrown and guns are grabbed then any semblance of Hutch proving himself to his family is defenestrated with extreme prejudice. No, this is for him.
Is Nobody Worth Watching?
Thankfully Nobody doesn’t rest all its charms on Odenkirk’s shoulders. Antagonist Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov) has a colourful performance hogging personality that makes him more than simply a slab to aim a fist at.
Tasked with protecting the Obtshak (the ever moving vast cash stores of the Russian mob), Kuznetsov’s overkill retaliations and eventual crestfallen realisations make just as entertaining an arc as Hutch’s zero to long-buried hero.
It is a shame that Hutch’s family – ostensibly the reason he lapses back to his old ways – are binned off to ‘a safe location’ pronto in the second act. As Hutch’s wife (an underused Connie Nielsen) superglues his stab wound shut it's hard to tell whether this is all new to her or old hat.
Indeed Naishuller doesn’t care to elaborate on any of the family; some slack-jawed wonder at the appearance of Deadly Dad would have been welcome.
Even if sections of the movie are quite divorced from each other, thanks to a powerful performance from Odenkirk and a tone that doesn’t take itself too seriously (has the presence of Christopher Lloyd ever resulted in stone-faced seriousness?), Nobody hits a delightful brawl-filled sweet spot that should appeal to a whole bunch of somebodys.
Words by Mike Record