As far as gritty, hyper-violent action flicks go, "Nobody" finds that gory, one-man-against-a-mob high upon which the film's appeal and nominal success rests. A former government operative turned picket fence layman reaches his breaking point and goes on a violent spree to abate the rage that has simmered under the surface, to prove his worth to his family and to plop his skillset on the table for all to admire.
In short: a lot of balls and fury signifying - not much.
If it sounds like a film the man-person in your life would group chat all of his friends about, you're probably right. Bob Odenkirk replaces the weaselly character we're used to seeing him play for one that flings him far outside his seemingly physical scope, and voila! "Nobody" is every guy's fantasy. Though I, too, enjoy a bloody, ludicrous rampage flick, this story and the film as a whole felt very macho for macho's sake without a solid backstory or interesting plot development driving it forward.
Odenkirk stars as Hutch Mansell, a husband and father who works for his in-laws and spends each day in a cyclical pattern of monotony and deprecation. No one takes hims seriously. His routine grinds on him, and he is invisible even to those he loves most. When his house is burglarized, Hutch passes on the opportunity to stop the criminals, choosing a nonviolent approach that disappoints his son (Gage Monroe) and emasculates him to his wife (Connie Nielsen).
Well, ain't that just the pits! What is a nobody to do in order to feel seen? The answer is, apparently, rage fight. When a flock of aggressive boys harass an innocent woman on an empty bus, Hutch cracks his knuckles and unleashes the Kraken-sized wrath of his secret crime-fighting abilities. Turns out his past isn't so squeaky unassuming, and Hutch has the training and aptitude to kick some serious mean guy butt.
Here, it should be noted, is where "Nobody" also kicks butt. With choreography from the team behind "John Wick", the film is a departure from your run-of-the-mill action-thrillers. The many fight sequences throughout the film are clever and, more importantly, thoughtful, a means to another fanciful, blood-yielding end that feels surely gratuitous, but not unwelcome. At no point are we bored with mundane kicks and hits we've seen time and again, entranced by each scene director Ilya Naishuller and his team craft.
Odenkirk is surprisingly great too. As a lead who is most famous for playing a smarmy defense attorney in the "Breaking Bad" spin-off, "Better Call Saul", Odenkirk finds a groove that is utterly unexpected, a sweet revelation and general relief. There is plenty of intended comedy to lighten each blood-slinging scene, and Odenkirk never falters in the role that is dealt most of the film's heavy lifting and that must be convincing in his lengthy, complicated fight sequences as well as the character's sardonic, wink-included cool-dude chill. He doesn't attain the levity that your Liam Neesons or Bruce Willises innately carry into their films, but he works his strengths, thereby makes his weakness - the greatest of such being our recognition of his goofy characters in other films - tolerable and, for much of the film, forgotten. In the role of Hutch, we appreciate the sly quality Odenkirk imbues in him that makes us, at first, underestimate his potential for wreaking havoc.
However, what "Nobody" fails to do is give the audience anyone or thing to invest in. Hutch unknowingly starts a feud with Russian mafia guys whom he pisses off by putting a relative in the hospital during the aforementioned bus sequence. It's a mess of clichés - the mad mob boss accidentally shoots an investor then cackles in wild lunacy - and therefore, it never quite feels rooted in something novel. Christopher Lloyd and RZA help round out an blow-out ending that's nearly worth sticking around for.
Hutch, in all his vigilante awesomeness, is also a little too glossy for the audience to find a connection. We follow throughout him through this journey and are introduced to his existential boredom in an opening sequence of quick cuts that delivers like a sloppy kiss. Yet at no point do we really care if he loses. Naturally, we don't doubt that he'll succeed in the end. They always do, right? The stakes aren't very high, and his adversaries are as bright as a frat house basement so there is no shame in taking the ride for what it is.
"Nobody" is available on PVOD.