MOVIE REVIEW OF ”NOBODY”

“Better Call Saul” star Bob Odenkirk plays an unlikely but invincible troubleshooter in director Ilya Naishuller’s “Nobody” (**** OUT OF ****), a white-knuckled, slam-bang, high octane epic about tough guys gone berserk. Mind you, Odenkirk resembles a woebegone sad sack with a five o’clock shadow, but he has skillfully concealed the truth about himself. Primarily, the villains get into trouble when they mistake our hero’s casual attitude as an open invitation to attack him.

Imagine their shock when he retaliates with the swift savagery of either a John Wick and/or a John Rambo. Literally, our pugnacious protagonist paints the walls, ceilings, and floors with their gore while the filmmakers paint him into challenging corners.


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If you’re having second thoughts about Odenkirk’s credentials as a tough guy hero, consider those of Russian-born director Ilya Naishuller as well as scenarist Derek Kolstad. Naishuller helmed “Hardcore Harry” (2015), an adrenalin-laced, free-for-all, first-person shooter saga shot with head-mounted GoPro cameras to heighten its volatile spontaneity.

Meantime, Kolstad originated the John Wick character for Keanu Reeves and wrote the first two “John Wick” bloodbaths. Basically, these two know all the genre clichés and conventions and rarely miss a chance to wow us with revelations about their improbable protagonist and his psychotic adversary. Naishuller orchestrates several staccato shootouts, and his choreography of close-quarters combat will dazzle you with its acrobatics.

Russian-born actor Aleksei Serebryakov of “The 9th Company” chews the scenery with evil gusto as the chief villain. He never gives our hero a break. Despite being both outnumbered and outgunned, the imperturbable Odenkirk maintains a stiff, upper lip throughout this ferocious, foul-mouthed, R-rated thriller.

“Nobody” bristles with enough fireworks for three movies. Nevertheless, our hero suffers his share of dire adversity, too. You may recognize some familiar faces in the cast. Veteran character actors Christopher Lloyd and Michael Ironside co-star with British thespian Colin Salmon, who made three Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond movies, and Wu-Tang Clan leader Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, a.k.a. RZA, is cast as our hero’s stepbrother.

Our protagonist, Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) toils from 9 to 5 am as an auditor for his father-in-law, Eddie Williams (Michael Ironsides of “Starship Troopers”), at a small family-owned factory. Hutch is married to Eddie’s daughter, Becca (Connie Nielsen of “Gladiator”), and they live in a comfortable house with their two children, a six-year-old daughter called Abby (newcomer Paisley Cadorath) and a son named Blake (Gage Munroe of “The Shack”), a teenager in high school.

Becca has the more visible job of the two. Her photo adorns one wall of the bus station where Hutch hoofs it every morning. Becca drives the kids to school, while Hutch rides the bus. Hutch’s life has become a monotonous grind. Jolting montages of his repetitive routines depicts Hutch’s numbing workdays. Meantime, Blake tolerates his father, while Abby dotes on her daddy. Meantime, Hutch and Becca’s marriage has lost its allure.

They share the same bed but for sleeping only. Becca has raised a ‘no man’s land’ barrier between them. They haven’t indulged in conjugal bliss for years. Hutch doesn’t complain. Becca chides Hutch about being late getting the garbage on time for the Tuesday curb pick-up. When he must write a paper for his history class about a military veteran, Blake approaches Becca’s arrogant brother, Charley Williams (Billy MacLellan of “Goalie”), because he served in the field. Comparatively, Hutch served behind the lines as an auditor.

Things change one night when Hutch cannot sleep. Hearing noises in their house, he encounters two intruders, darkly clad in masks and gloves, with the female of the pair armed with a revolver. Surprising the male burglar, Blake tackles him to the floor, while Hutch balks at clobbering the female burglar with a golf club. Brandishing her revolver, she waves it in his face. Later, Hutch claims he only sought to minimize the danger the two intruders posed to his family.

One uniformed policeman praises Hutch’s prudence, while his partner brags he would have decked her with the golf club. Similarly, Hutch’s obnoxious next-door neighbor dreams that somebody would have the audacity to burglarize his house. At work, Charlie ridicules Hutch about losing his nerve, while Eddie consoles his son-in-law and says he did the right thing.

Everything comes to a head when Abby complains about her missing kitty cat bracelet. She says she left it in the large dish of other miscellaneous items that the burglars plundered. Hutch has struggled with guilty feelings for not defending his family during a moment of crisis.

Now, he stalks off to find the burglars. He caught a glimpse of a tattoo on the woman’s wrist. Hutch masquerades as an FBI agent and tours all the tattoo parlors around town. Eventually, he finds the man & wife burglar, recovers his wristwatch but not Abby’s kitty cat bracelet. Frustrated by this turn of events, he catches a ride home on the Metro bus.

Along the way, a quartet of rowdy toughs crash their vehicle and board the bus. When they bother a lone female passenger, Hutch’s rage erupts, and he clashes with them in a knockdown, drag-out slugfest. He walks away with a stab wound, while the foursome land in the hospital.

One of the four turns out to be the brother of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov), and he is lucky to be alive, but his doctor says he won’t walk again. Although he didn’t have much use for his brother, Yulian feels the tug of family ties.

He discovers Hutch’s identity and dispatches hit teams to wipe out Hutch and his family. Clocking in at 96 breathless minutes, “Nobody” piles on the action like an avalanche while Naishuller sets up Kolstad’s plot in the first twenty minutes and aligns audience sympathy with Hutch. Several claustrophobic shootouts are staged with aplomb, while Odenkirk performs most of his own stunts. The brawls are executed with finesse and humor. Yulian’s explosive death scene is unforgettable. Ultimately, “John Wick” cannot hold a candle to “Nobody.”

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