Credit: Universal
Blockbuster Beat by Matt Lynch Featured Film

Nobody | Ilya Naishuller

March 22, 2021

Nobody is an absolute blast of genre filmmaking and T-fueled ass-kicking glee. 

By now, it’s not really a stretch to assume that Bob Odenkirk isn’t just a terrific comedian, but also a gifted dramatic actor (see The Post, or, duh, Better Call Saul). That reality doesn’t keep Nobody from hanging its whole gimmick on a premise of “What if Bob Odenkirk was John Wick?” To be fair, that is a pretty good logline, and what’s more, the movie pays off on it efficiently and unpretentiously. 2021 has its first certified face-melter.

The John Wick comparison isn’t just wallpaper, either. Nobody is written by Wick creator Derek Kolstad, and he’s more than happy to crib from himself here — with some interesting tweaks. Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, mild-mannered regular dude with a regular-degular job working for his father-in-law’s construction business, and he and his wife (Connie Nielsen) and son have an equally degular suburban life. Hutch is boring, right? Well, one night a couple of burglars break in and, you guessed it, Hutch…does nothing. His teenage son tackles one of the intruders, but when given the opportunity to stove the guy’s head in with a golf club, Hutch lets them go, defusing the situation, even at the cost of his masculine dignity and family’s respect.

Of course, that really rankles, and did we mention that it turns out Hutch is also an ex-government covert badass? After a night out spent tracking down the robbers in an attempt to restore equilibrium to his ego, he runs afoul of a bunch of scumbags harassing everyone on a city bus, and, naturally, he absolutely obliterates them. Unfortunately, one of them is the son of a big Russian mafioso (of course he is), which sets off a chain of reciprocity that solves not a single problem except for the one where you need to see Bob Odenkirk fuck up a ton of dudes. And, indeed, he does. We won’t even get into who plays his equally badass elderly father and adopted brother (and if you know what’s good for you, you won’t look it up on IMDb either).

Nobody doesn’t have the crisp long-takes and razor-sharp cutting of the John Wicks, but it is a casually brutal and entirely violent spectacle. Director Ilya Naishuller, known mostly for his POV action movie Hardcore Henry, stages everything with a tight economy focused on clarity and not speed (although his cutting is a tad too fast for this writer’s taste), and it’s absolute reptile brain stuff: broken limbs, knives to the face, diabolical booby traps, and blown-off heads abound. What’s even more delightful is that Nobody completely eschews Wick‘s occasional moral handwringing. Where the world’s greatest hitman just wanted to be left alone with his puppy dog, Hutch Mansell dearly misses his work and is extremely pleased for the opportunity to get his hands dirty and bloody. It’s a rare and welcome sight to see a world-class ass-kicker take glee in the violence he wreaks, and the world of action films is the better for this little, brutal gem.