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‘Nobody’ is a great time with a bloody good Bob Odenkirk

‘Nobody’ is a great time with a bloody good Bob Odenkirk

‘Nobody’ is a great time with a bloody good Bob Odenkirk
April 01
13:00 2021

“I’m the last person you want to see.”

After a break-in at his home, quiet Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is chastised by his friends and family for not defending himself. However, the darker side of Hutch’s personality starts boiling to the front as he simmers with rage. After a night hunting for the burglars, Hutch inadvertently ignites a series of events that will bring back his past and leave a lot of dead Russians in his wake.

A more satirical take on writer Derek Kolstad’sJohn Wick” franchise, “Nobody” has not only some of the best Western action outside of the former but some of the best black comedy in a while. Directed by Ilya Naishuller, produced by Wick co-director David Leitch and starring Odenkirk in never-better shape, this is by far the most fun movie of 2021 so far. Sharp comedy and sharper action make for a great time.

Odenkirk is just fantastic here. While he’s more well-known for his comedic roles such as Saul Goodman, Odenkirk delivers so much credibility as a badass. Having trained nearly two years for the role, Odenkirk comes off every bit as the ex-assassin he’s supposed to be. He handles firearms with precision, and he can take a beating and dish it out with tactical-minded pragmatism. When he’s not breaking necks and obliterating those nasty Russian mobsters, his interactions with his family also help sell him as a guy who just wants the best for his loved ones and to keep his head low.

Odenkirk’s dedication is matched by Naishuller’s frenzied direction during the bloodshed. While “Nobody’s” action isn’t as clean as “John Wick,” the rougher, scrapper feel helps to contrast it and deliver a much more unhinged tone. Whereas Kolstad’s original franchise is more balletic, Naishuller’s take is more fisticuffed and dragged-out. Fights are long, the combatants are left looking more like shambling corpses and those killed die messily.

The most jaw-dropping scene doesn’t even involve killing — it’s Hutch cutting a hole in someone’s neck so they can breathe through a crushed trachea.

There are plenty of great action sequences here, from the much-advertised bus beatdown to another home invasion to a fist-pumping car chase in which Hutch sprays at enemies with a Micro-Uzi as Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” booms. While the editing can be annoying and not show the full picture, the sense of geography and where everyone is in relation to one another is continuously consistent. The action is a bit rough around the edges, but Niashuller’s even-handed direction prevents it from dampening the fun.

All of this doesn’t make the film any less fun, because Kolstad crafts a tight story with a delicious streak of black comedy. From Hutch demanding a burglar give him back his daughter’s kitty-cat bracelet with the rage of a desperate man to his foes repeatedly dying before he can give them his full backstory, there is no shortage of “No, they didn’t!” laughs. While the trailers sold “Nobody” as more of a straight-action movie built on Odenkirk taking on an unusual role for himself, this really does make full use of his comedic chops. This goes for most of the cast, with even Christopher Lloyd getting some eye-watering moments.

No spoilers, but his best scene involves his thumb, a loud television and a sawn-off shotgun.

One minor knock against the writing is a somewhat undeveloped theme around the concept of toxic masculinity. In this case, dudes who crave violence, despite having little-to-no experience with it, constantly mock Hutch for his timid demeanor and decision to not take action. This aspect up ended up attracting co-star Connie Nielsen to the project. Kolstad could have developed it further, though how he handles it is refreshingly straight-forward while not bashing viewers over the head.

Now, there have been a number of “John Wick” comparisons throughout this review, which is easy to justify. The trailers heavily advertise Leitch and Kolstad’s involvement, the poster is a reference to “John Wick Chapter 2” and there are a number of shared plot elements. For example, a long-retired killer comes out because something is taken, he confronts members of the Russian mob, his main beef with the head of the Russian mob involves the latter’s closest family member, a home invasion, a really cool Dodge and so much more.

To be clear, this isn’t a turnoff. In fact, in some way “Nobody” feels like Kolstad and Leitch lovingly satirizing their own work. The only potential downside is there are so many shared elements I just thought were done better in the latter than here. The world-building is much-more stripped back, the action rougher and the antagonist is much less threatening and underdeveloped. In so many ways, “Nobody” feels like Kolstad set it in a nearby parallel universe.

A much-more subjective criticism, but I’m not really bothered and audiences probably won’t be either.

Regardless, this is the first great action film of 2021 and a showcase for Odenkirk as a physical performer. “Wick” fans will definitely be satiated as they wait for the delayed next two movies, while those just looking for a genuinely well-made action or comedy will be pleased. “Nobody” is the best kind of surprise — the one no one knew they wanted.

Will’s rating: 3.75/5

Courtesy Universal

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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