Everybody is a nobody to someone else. What really matters is that your friends and family still think of you as a somebody. If those people stop believing in you, it might just be time to call it a day… or fight back with reckless abandon. That’s the premise behind Nobody, a revenge flick of sorts that straps you in and takes you along for a ride as crazy as some of the wildest roller coasters. A long history of this type of movie precedes it, so it has to stand on its own based on the actors and the story. Nobody showcases Bob Odenkirk as you’ve never seen him before in a satisfying action film tinged with comedy.
Director Ilya Naishuller made a splash in 2016 with his unusual Hardcore Henry, a film shown entirely from the first-person perspective that gamers are used to seeing. Writer Derek Kolstad also penned John Wick and John Wick: Chapter 2, so he knows his way around criminals and a man on a mission. In Nobody, Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) wimps out when two criminals rob his house and get away with next to nothing. His wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and two kids treat him like a loser afterwards, and Hutch decides to take action, especially because the criminals took his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet. Hutch hunts down the criminals, setting off a chain of escalating events in which he takes on Russian mobsters and more than steps up to prove that he’s not a nobody after all.
Odenkirk starred in a lot of TV shows, notably Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. This project inspired him to train for a couple of years in order to at least make the violence and fights seem realistic. You know his face, so you buy in from the first moments. With the focus clearly on Hutch, Nielsen doesn’t get as much screen time as I would have liked, especially considering her own cinematic history from action to drama. It’s not a spoiler because he’s in the trailer, but Christopher Lloyd’s performance will make you laugh in a role as far away from Doc Brown as you can get. RZA provides the supportive voice to Hutch from his ham radio, and Michael Ironside (so many movies) has a small role as Hutch’s father-in-law. Alexey Serebryakov chews up the scenery as the lead bad guy full of personality and pizzazz.
The fight sequences, especially those on a bus early in the film, cause you to feel every hit, kick and knife slash. If it’s painful for moviegoers to watch, I bet that Odenkirk’s training still left him with aches every filming day. When the bad guys attack his house, Hutch says “Don’t call 911” to his family before he goes all Home Alone on the invaders. The level of violence escalates with each action scene to build to a bonkers finale that had me laughing as well as wincing. Naishuller offers homage to Hardcore Henry with a cool tracking shot into a nightclub that ramps up the frenetic energy of the film. Nobody clocks in at about 90 minutes, and I can only imagine the other scenes that Naishuller could have pulled off if they went big.
You’ve seen movies like this before, so part of the assessment of Nobody is if it stands alongside series like Taken or John Wick. Hutch secretly possesses skills that even his family doesn’t know about, so the fun of Nobody involves watching him release his rage with some surprises along the way. Kolstad has now written two films with a protagonist who exacts wide-ranging revenge based on a smaller injustice that sets him off. In John Wick, someone killed John’s dog. In Nobody, that thief took the kitty cat bracelet. Hutch’s line of dialogue to the thief immediately brought to mind one of my favorite movie lines. In Con Air, Nicolas Cage utters, “Put the bunny back in the box.”
Hutch loves classic music from people like Louis Armstrong and Andy Williams. Naishuller weaves in some tunes at perfect times to emphasize the action, including the inspired use of Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker.” I hope that Odenkirk trains another two years for a sequel because film lovers need to see Hutch in action again, maybe with Nielsen contributing as the couple who fights together. Although there are echoes of Falling Down in Hutch’s attitude, he clearly justifies every brutal attack on the criminals. After all, he loves his family and kittens, too. Nobody gives you a chance to cheer for the little man who gets fed up and doesn’t back down despite overwhelming odds.