Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell
Connie Nielsen as Becca Mansell
RZA as Harry Mansell
Aleksei Serebryakov as Yulian Kuznetsov
Christopher Lloyd as David Mansell
Gage Munroe as Blake Mansell
Paisley Cadorath as Sammy Mansell
Michael Ironside as Eddie Williams
Colin Salmon as The Barber
Directed by Ilya Naishuller; Written by Derek Kolstad
Nearly five years ago, audiences were first introduced to the creative mind of Ilya Naishuller with his directorial debut Hardcore Henry, which proved to be one of the most innovatively-crafted films of 2016 and of the decade and established him as a talent to look out for in the action genre and now he’s finally returned with the Bob Odenkirk-led Nobody, an absolute blast of thriller brilliantly blending the worlds of Vince Gilligan’s Better Call Saul and Keanu Reeves’ John Wick into a darkly funny, hard-hitting ride.
Hutch Mansell is an underestimated and mild-mannered family man, unresisting to his life’s hardships. One night two thieves break into his suburban home and he declines to defend himself or his family, hoping to prevent any serious complications. His son, Blake and wife, Becca are disappointed in Hutch and begin to drift away from him. Deciding to look into the robbery for a special trinket belonging to his daughter, Hutch runs afoul of some dangerous people and igniting his resentment about being an unsubstantial father and husband, he finds his suppressed skills awakened and the dark secrets of his past coming to light.
With a script hailing from John Wick franchise creator/writer Derek Kolstad, it comes as no surprise that a number of the story’s elements feel derived from the Reeves-led series, from underestimating a seemingly normal guy to a city with more mafia than law enforcement, and even feels as though borrowing a few things from the Michael Douglas-starring Falling Down and Denzel Washington vehicle The Equalizer. That being said, though, it doesn’t make any beat feel like a cheap knockoff but rather an interesting homage of the various action flicks that all add up to make for an enjoyable and easy enough to story to grasp and carry viewers from set piece to set piece.
Speaking of, while not nearly as cleanly-executed as the Wick films, the action scenes in the film are all incredibly exciting, uniquely-crafted and an absolute joy ride for fans of the genre, but their evolution is what helps keep them feeling fresh and thematically appropriate. Unlike other similar films, in which the protagonist is a bad ass right out of the gate who takes little-to-no hits in every fight, audiences watch as Hutch goes from messily taking down enemies in his first couple of fights and taking a number of devastating-looking hits to honing back in on his skills and becoming a certified ass-kicker and it offers a much nicer progression for its fights. This messiness also provides a better challenge for the stunt team and coordinators to create an air of controlled chaos to the early set pieces and make them all the more exciting and authentic.
While a film such as this can certainly coast on some well-performed action sequences, what can really help elevate it or further boost its entertainment value is a well-written or charismatic lead and Odenkirk certainly delivers in spades in an against-type performance for the star. Instead of a typically quip-heavy or fast-talking character audiences are used to seeing him portray, Odenkirk’s Hutch is a far quieter and more downbeat persona that the Emmy winner expertly hones into, from the few truly moving character moments involving his wife and family to the cold and calculating bad ass he used to be and the struggle of holding it all back in his new quiet life. His performance becomes all the more exciting as Hutch gets to be his face-smashing old self, knowing he’s playing into action hero tropes and relishing every moment of drawing bad guys into dramatic face-offs, dropping cheesy one-liners and so on and so forth. While Aleksei Serebryakov’s Yulian might not be the hammed-up or intimidating villain as other genre fare à la Michael Nyqvist’s Viggo Tarasov or Paul Giamatti’s Karl Hertz, he’s got a more intriguing character arc than most to keep him interesting.
Nobody certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel of its genre, but it beats it over the head enough with some skillful action, stylish direction from Naishuller, a wonderfully dark sense of humor permeating throughout and awesome performance from Odenkirk demanding he lead more action pics and is an absolute joy ride sure to keep audiences on the edge of their seats and beaming with excitement.