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Review: Bob Odenkirk Kicks Ass in 'Nobody'

By Lindsay Traves | Film | March 22, 2021 |

By Lindsay Traves | Film | March 22, 2021 |


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Fans love a transformation, a good old-fashioned glow up, and Bob Odenkirk’s rebrand into action hero for Nobody promises audiences will be ablaze. No stranger to playing the ruffian undercover as a normal guy, Odenkirk is here as the retired military operative dressed-up as a suburban dad who gets just enough blood on his hands to necessitate shedding his façade.

The film opens at the end, a man sitting across the table from two police officers. He looks like the world’s clumsiest magician, clad with handcuffs, a small animal, and a box of cigarettes. “Don’t Let me be Misunderstood” blares while the officers lean in and ask, “Who the f*ck are you?” Hutch (Odenkirk) is a study in mundanity. Via Guy Ritchie style fast cuts, a portrait is painted of a family man whose major stresses are catching the bus and putting out the garbage on time. He is emasculated at work and at home, and spends time staring across the TV tray at his future; his seemingly desolate father. One night, a pair of burglars penetrates his home. Hutch resists going off, letting the crooks flea with his watch, some cash, and a kitty cat bracelet his young daughter holds dear. Feeling his virility questioned by his inability to protect his family, Hutch heads out to blow off some steam. That steam, as it were, burns the brother of Russian gangster, Yiulian (Aleksey Serebryakov), who is equally funded and violent. Now, a target of a blood spilling crime syndicate, Hutch reaches into his bag of old tricks to take on walls of armed mercenaries so he can get back to life in quiet suburbia.

If the “yeah, I’m thinking I’m back,” of it all sounds familiar, it’s no coincidence. Nobody was penned by Derek Kolstad, the writer behind the John Wick movies (and episodes of The Falcon and The Winter Solider). It seems a perfect fit for director, Ilya Naishuller, who won action lovers’ hearts with Hardcore Henry, an action-packed blast about another man thrown into a messy and violent scenario. Naishuller is known for his ground-breaking action directing, having once strapped a camera to a stuntman to get POV shots of him running along the top of a bridge. He has delivered on the teeth rattling shots, yet again. There’s a moment shot from the POV of the gun that will make you feel like you’re looking directly through the screen at the grinning filmmaker. The film is stuffed with fun set pieces, like a bus-set blood bath. Admittedly, Odenkirk looks a bit lost within them. The fight scenes with Odenkirk are filled with cuts and the actor doesn’t glide well through the punches and hits. But it’s not egregious as Liam Neeson climbing a fence in Taken 3.

Where Odenkirk does shine is in his subtle portrayal of an impotent man who toggles between warmth and grit. He can play the “retired renegade in hiding” in his sleep, but he still manages to bring something fresh to this role that makes Hutch a worthwhile hero. He’s supported by hammy performances from Christopher Lloyd and RZA that create just enough of an ensemble for the larger action blowouts. Odenkirk’s shoulder slumped Hutch is juxtaposed beautifully as against his blood-soaked fight-scenes, something the music also has a lot of fun with.

The soundtrack of this film is the most fun element in this smile-inducing romp. Happy tracks are laid atop ultra-violence in a way nothing like A Clockwork Orange. Sometimes they’re set to tell the story (calling on Hutch to “Straighten up and Fly Right”), sometimes to create a surreal vibe (as “What a Wonderful World” plays above roaring flames), and sometimes they’re sung at karaoke by a shiny-blazer-clad madman.

Nobody never asks you to take it too seriously. The emotional beats don’t land, and the plot threads are flimsy, but who cares? That’s not why anyone is here. We’re here to see our favorite TV actor thrust into a gaggle of melees, taking and giving hits in good measure. We’re here for a collection of fight scenes strung together by a lot of “you messed with the wrong guy!”s. I can’t say Hutch is nothing like John Wick, but Wick would never get this much blood on his suit.

Nobody comes to theaters only on March 26.

Epidemiologists do not think it’s safe yet to go to theaters even with social distancing and safety measures in place. This review of a theatrical release is not an endorsement or suggestion otherwise. This film was reviewed via a screening link.

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