Three talented action filmmakers come together and turn Bob Odenkirk into an extremely dangerous man NOBODY. We reveal in our review how much fun you can have, even though the film largely uses familiar ingredients.
OT: Nobody (USA/JPN 2021)
Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is unremarkable, quiet, has few friends, a father (Christopher Lloyd) who lives in a retirement home, a teenage son with whom he doesn’t have a good rapport, and a younger daughter who looks up to him. The relationship with his wife Rebecca (Connie Nielsen) has become passionless, and the biggest excitement in this number-juggling office worker’s everyday life is the weekly trot behind the garbage disposal because he always forgets to put the trash can out on time. When a masked couple breaks into Hutch’s house one day, he stands frozen, even though he had the chance, in a moment of carelessness, to defend his belongings with a brutal, well-aimed blow. This earns Hutch malice from a police officer, his own son and a boastful co-worker. What they all don’t know is that there is potential for violence in Hutch. Huge potential for violence, even. And very soon it will burst out of him. Which will bring Russian gangster Yulian Kuznetsov (Alexei Serebryakov) onto the scene…
Although Bob Odenkirk has had a long career in films and series, he is probably best known as the clever lawyer Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul”. No matter how popular he is in the snarky, sarcastic role, few of his fans probably saw him as a potential action hero. But fortunately Odenkirk dared to do this: in 2018 he joined the latest idea from “John Wick” author Derek Kolstadt and “Hardcore” director Ilya Naishuller as a producer and leading actor. With David Leitch, ex-stuntman, “John Wick” co-director and director behind “Atomic Blonde”, “Deadpool 2” and “Fast & Furious presents: Hobbs & Shaw”, another action great joined in as producer in addition. Nothing can go wrong, right? It would certainly be a bigger rhetorical point, now “But!” to reply. But that would be a lie. Because with “Nobody”, Odenkirk, Leitch, Naishuller, Kolstadt and Co. have created an immensely entertaining, robustly staged and crisply told actioner. Whether this can be developed into a franchise of the size and brilliance of the “John Wick” series remains to be seen (after all, several people involved expressed interest in a continuation), but the first “Nobody” does not have to be behind the first part of Keanu Hide Reeves violent orgies!
Bob Odenkirk is Hutch Mansell. A nobody.
Similar to the first “John Wick”, “Nobody” does not come close to the fabulous lighting of the later “John Wick” films: the high-contrast, highly saturated range of splashes of color, which meets rich black and a dark basic aesthetic, is missing Naishuller and his cameraman Pawel Pogorzelski (“Midsommar”) to a lighting and color world that is associated with medium-sized action films. Lots of grey, blue, black and mixed tones, not particularly accentuated. But: In “Nobody” Naishuller lets you feel the devilish joy in excessive violence that he also showed in “Hardcore” – as well as his impressive ability to film action dynamically and yet show so much calm that it fast-paced fight choreography itself can shine, instead of a kinetic cut having to underline its effect. The prime example of this would be an argument on a public bus: a Hutch, who is under pressure and practically glowing with a longing for conflict, takes on a group of hooligans who are harassing a young woman. Naishuller shows the brawl and stabbing that escalates in such a way that individual attacks and their immediate response are captured without editing and we can admire the performance of the stunt team and the actors, who do a lot of the acting themselves. Nevertheless, Naishuller almost intuitively finds moments for changes in perspective, accentuating cuts or a shaky camera that underlines the chaos in order to keep the long sequence moving on a directorial level as much as it advances the narrative.
“In ‘Nobody’, Naishuller lets you feel the devilish joy in excessive violence that he also showed in ‘Hardcore’ – as well as his impressive ability to film action dynamically and yet display so much calm that the fast-paced Fight choreography itself can shine.”
Because not only does it reveal Hutch’s anger potential to us for the first time – it also gradually reveals more and more about Hutch’s fighting style, his righteousness, as well as his almost sociopathic streak, which craves more and more violence, as well as the following circumstance: Even without the previous and explanations of who Hutch really is behind his nobody facade, this powerful, brutal, maliciously fun and at the same time exciting action scene alone makes it clear that Hutch is a somewhat rusty complete professional; a natural fighting talent who somewhat overestimates his current form because he forgets how untrained he is at the moment. And so Hutch has to take a lot of damage due to negligence (significantly more than a John Wick, who is so damaged later in the “John Wick” series primarily because the underworld doesn’t give him a break and he inevitably gets caught in the constant hail of attacks ), even if he delivers even more violently than his opponents. Thanks to Odenkirk’s immense charisma and well-placed gags or pointed, puzzled looks, this is occasionally funny – and the reactions of the villains or their assistants are also extremely funny.
Okay: A nobody with a gun.
But due to Naishuller’s rough imagery and the mostly practical, always painful effects, “Nobody” is also, strangely enough, a very straightforward actioner: no matter how absurd it gets at times, everything seems like a B action film inflated by talent and ambition – one that is about its Alibistory outgrows it. And Aleksei Serebryakov also contributes his part by playing the villain Yulian Kuznetsov (“Leviathan”) grows into a memorable antagonist: just as annoyed by his current job situation as Hutch and a role model within the Russian mafia in terms of tolerance, integration and joy of life, this villain is almost likeable, which Serebryakov conveys with his play just as well as the danger that comes from this figure comes from. With upbeat cameos from RZA (“The Man with the Iron Fists”) and Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) and, despite all the clichés, an immensely efficient, rough, driving score by David Buckley (“Greenland”), “Nobody” ultimately becomes a real recommendation for genre fans. The old-fashioned, gallant soundtrack including “The Impossible Dream” (known from the “John Wick 3” trailer – or “Joko & Klaas versus ProSieben”) nicely rounds off the overall package and basically says: Don’t expect innovation, but rather soulful, good stuff Implementation. With pleasure!
“Due to Naishuller’s rough imagery and the practical, always painful effects, ‘Nobody’ is curiously also a very straightforward actioner: no matter how absurd it gets at times, everything seems like a B action film inflated by talent and ambition that outgrows its alibi story. “
Conclusion: “Nobody” is entertaining, rough, crisply told and has a very charismatic leading actor in Bob Odenkirk. In short: the first action highlight of 2021!
“Nobody” can be seen in USA cinemas from July 1, 2021.