Review: Bob Odenkirk goes off the rails in relentlessly bonkers 'Nobody'
Courtesy of Universal
Relentlessly paced, brutally violent and packed with a charismatic lead star, IIya Naishuller’s “Nobody” kicks unholy amounts of ass. Proving what it takes to be an action star, Bob Odenkirk - of “Better Call Saul” fame - goes on a delirious revenge quest that lands him in a mexican standoff with an array of villains including the Russian mafia. What begins as a film with an identity crisis quickly snowballs into a hyperkinetic (and satirical) riff of the “John Wick” formula and having watched zero promotional material for “Nobody,” I was humbled and gobsmacked by where things landed. For the sake of not revealing too much, let’s just say we’ll never look at Christopher Llyod the same way again.
Watching Odenkirk’s rise in stature over the years from comedic sidekick to leading man has been rewarding, and “Nobody” is the perfect vehicle for his talents. He’s having a blast playing Hutch Mansell, a lowly schmuck looking for any excuse to smash someone’s skull. But now he’s a family man whose reptivie daily routine involving a morning jog, brewing coffee, taking the trash out, and taking crap from his father-in-law at work is the new normal. His days of being a lethal “auditor” for the United States military are behind him.
At least until a pair of burglars break into his home and assault his son, Blake (Gage Munroe) and instead of dropping them with a golf club, Hutch lets them go. Various police officers and neighbors are quick to let Hutch know they wouldn’t have hesitated in the moment, and when you assume “Nobody” is heading towards a redemptive path of “everyday man becomes stone cold killer” think again. “Nobody” takes a complete 180 when it's revealed Hutch has a secret past that would put Liam Neeson’s Bryan Mills to shame (what a crossover that would be!)
It’s clear a dark beast has been awakened inside Hutch and his skills in hand-to-hand combat and quest for revenge takes over in the most gleefully and inspired way imaginable. The best sequence is a bare-knuckle brawl/knife fight aboard a city bus with a squad of drunken goons. They literally don’t know what hit them, and you can immediately tell - thanks to the dense and tightly wound choreography - that “John Wick” staple David Leitch’s fingerprints are all over it. I mean this as a complement, but the sense of whiplash is absolutely real.
Turns out, one of the incapicated cronies left beaten and bruised is the brother of mobster Yulian (Alexy Serebryakov) who’s own thirst for blood will vastly underestimate Hutch’s unique set of skills, sending “Nobody” into a popcorn trifecta of bloody mayhem and gratuitous violence. By the time we reach the climatic shoot-out inside a rigged machine shop where RZA - playing an old ally - and Llyod - Hutch’s dad - team up for one last hurrah, “Nobody” has checked its head at the door, and you should too. Fire-fights and illogical physics play out in sporting fashion, and Naishuller - whose previous film “Hardcore Henry” gave viewers, like me, a headche - lands on his feet with an ace cast and a satisfying rally of smoothly layered action sequences. His use of Pat Bentar’s “Heartbreaker” is also genius.
The idea of an average joe raising holy hell unto a batch of machine gun wielding baddies is nothing new for the action genre. And though obvious comparisons to the aforementioned “John Wick” are inevitable, give Odenkirk and company credit for crafting a testosterone (and hilarious) fueled ride that should have no problem sweeping viewers up in its chaotic madness.
NOBODY opens in theaters Friday, March 26th