Action movies of this type are an increasingly rare breed; moviegoers looking for gunfire and explosions are most likely to find it in a superhero epic or an existing franchise, such as Mission: Impossible or Fast & Furious. Studios are less likely to take risks on original action movies, but that is exactly what we’re getting here.
Bob Odenkirk stars in Nobody, an action thriller directed by Ilya Naishuller. Odenkirk portrays Hutch Mansell, a man who appears to be a nobody. He lives in the suburbs with his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen), and two children. We are introduced to him living a repetitive, monotonous life of routine.
Early in the movie, two people break into their house and rob them. After Hutch decides not to fight back, he is sent down a violent path where we discover his dark past and set of skills that make him way more than just a nobody.
Nobody is one of the most entertaining movies of the year. This is a throwback, action-packed thrill ride that offers everything action junkies are hoping for. At face value, the film seems very disposable; without the bankable actors, the movie may have ended up on VOD.
The film’s screenplay was penned by Derek Kolstad, the writer of the John Wick films. In many ways, this movie feels like a spiritual successor to that franchise, as Nobody shares the same production company and is produced by David Leitch, the uncredited co-director of the original Wick.
Much of the film feels like an early draft of a Wick script, with both films opening in medias res and featuring a home invasion that leads to a former assassin getting back into action. The story is very familiar and offers nothing to write home about, but this film still miraculously works.
This is due to the surprising casting of Bob Odenkirk, who is phenomenal in this movie. Odenkirk isn’t the first name that comes to mind when you think of modern-day action heroes, but he fully commits to this role as a nice, well-meaning father holding a lot of rage inside.
He does a ton of his own stunts and sells every bit of his character, from the serious action hero persona to the occasional moment of humor. While Wick is a very dark drama, this movie goes for a more lighthearted tone with very well-placed instances of comedy.
Another thing that sets this film apart from Wick is how much the film emphasizes that Hutch is past his prime. He gets beat up a lot in the fight scenes, and we often find him just barely able to survive, making the fights very compelling.
Once the movie kicks into high gear with a thrilling fight on a bus, the film becomes a bloody blast. Naishuller directs the action very well, using a lot of wide shots. The fights and shootouts are brutal, kinetic, and exhilarating, especially in the film's final act.
But the film is not as good as it could be. Compared to the other action films of this generation, the fights and car chases can feel like it lacks the spectacle we’re used to. It’s a mid-budget actioner that delivers most of the thrills we were expecting.
The film's villain is also very weak; he is a forgettable Russian drug lord with overly simple motivations. Furthermore, the movie may have benefitted from showing a bit more of Hutch’s relationship with his children, especially at the end.
But this movie works. We have Christopher Lloyd portraying Hutch’s father, and he has a surprising amount to do in the final half-hour. It’s a 90-minute action film that doesn’t overstay its welcome, spending a serviceable amount of time on characterization and giving fans of the action genre what they want to see.
Grade: ★★★★☆ [8/10, B+]
Nobody is in theaters only March 26th.
Rating: R for strong violence and bloody images, language throughout and brief drug use