A midlife crisis racks up quite the body count in this action flick
By Diana Beechener
Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk: Better Call Saul) is trapped in a hell of his own creation. Every day he wakes up, goes for a jog, sleepwalks through work, returns to a disinterested family, and falls asleep with a wall of pillows between himself and his wife. The days seem to stretch out before him in an infinite loop of tiny disappointments.
His routine of suburban malaise is disturbed one night when a couple breaks into his house. There’s a moment where Hutch could act, striking one of the attackers and subduing the other, but Hutch refuses to resort to violence. Instead, he allows the burglars to get away, leaving his son with a black eye and a rather dim view of his father. His son isn’t the only one who decries Hutch’s inaction. The police, Hutch’s neighbors, and even his wife seem to think he ultimately failed as a husband and a father.
What those around him don’t know is Hutch’s nonviolence isn’t because he’s afraid, it’s because he doesn’t want to revert to his old ways. Before he was a nobody, Hutch was an ultra-violent operative for the government. His current milquetoast persona is a cover that keeps him from falling back into bad habits. Think of it as Addictions Anonymous for former contract killers. And Hutch is about to fall off the wagon.
Tired of being overlooked and disrespected by family, friends, and strangers on the street, Hutch goes on a violent quest to reclaim his masculinity. Unfortunately, this new “take no guff” attitude runs Hutch afoul of the Russian mob.
Can Hutch embrace his past without losing his future?
If the premise of this film sounds familiar, that’s because it is a mashup of John Wick, Death Wish, and Taken. And like those films, you’ll either love the action or be driven crazy by the plot holes and inconsistencies. Nobody comes the closest to Wick, since director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) focuses most of his effort on the action set pieces that pepper the film. Naishuller has a flair for funny, exciting action sequences and cool long tracking shots. His lickety-split editing style, reminiscent of Edgar Wright’s work, helps to keep the pace quick and engaging. He’s clearly an action director and the movie really sings when the bullets and punches start flying.
As the center of the film, Odenkirk makes a great action lead. Usually known for playing sleazy types, he offers a convincingly visceral performance. Hutch is a man who’s had more than his property stolen from him, and this dogged journey to reclaim his dignity is at the heart of the film. The problem though, falls in what the film says about Hutch. He’s surrounded by fake tough guys who are mocked, but when Hutch wears the tough guy mantle, it’s viewed as a triumph. The movie wants to make a distinction, but fails to really do so. However, Odenkirk is there to make sure Hutch remains the sympathetic heart of the film.
While Odenkirk may have put in the work, doing pullups and fight training, the movie is easily stolen by Christopher Lloyd (Senior Moment), who plays Hutch’s former FBI agent father. The 82-year-old actor is clearly having the time of his life firing off one liners and shotguns as he runs through every scene he graces. In fact, Hutch’s father and brother (played brilliantly by Wu Tang Clan’s Rza) are the best part of the movie. An origin story about this heavily armed little family would arguably be a more interesting story than the tale of male ennui we get.
Though the movie has snappy action and fun performances, the story is undercooked. Clearly styled after the John Wick franchise, Nobody doesn’t quite have the outlandish imagination that made those films so fun. Unlike Wick, which is more concerned with building a fantasy world where every fourth person in New York is an assassin, Nobody is bogged down with a confused message about emasculation and reclaiming your manhood in a testosterone-fueled beat down. It’s not offering any new motivation, and the character development we get is scattered.
It’s a shame more care wasn’t taken with the script, because Nobody is a fun romp with some great action sequences. Nobody is well worth a rental for action fans, and perhaps even worth a trip to theaters (IF you’re fully vaccinated) for those that really like over-the-top action. It’s a good popcorn flick to start the action movie season.
Nobody is in theaters or available to rent for $19.99 on Amazon Prime.
Good Action * R * 92 mins.