Hutch Mansell is a mild-mannered everyday average Joe. His days are an endless cycle of monotony – get up, catch the bus, go to work, come back home, go to bed. The only real highlights of his week are his morning cups of coffee and missing the trash truck every Tuesday. Even his family seems lulled by his ordinariness. But as the press notes for the upcoming film “Nobody” strategically warns, “Sometimes the man you don’t notice is the most dangerous of all.”
The aptly named “Nobody” is a gritty action thriller with a heavy dose of black comedy. It comes from director Ilya Naishuller and screenwriter Derek Kolstad who penned the three “John Wick” movies and is currently attached to the MCU streaming series “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier”. In “Nobody” Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk plays the aforementioned Hutch, an overlooked and altogether unremarkable fellow stuck in a rut. I’ll be honest, Odenkirk together with the the writer of the “John Wick” movies didn’t sound like the most convincing pairing. But the 58-year-old “Better Call Saul” star proved me wrong, especially in the film’s wacky and corpse-filled second half.
Hutch is someone you would barely even notice; a guy who would walk by and never catch your eye. Even at home his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) seems to have lost interest in him. Then you have his teen son Blake (Gage Munroe) who looks at his humdrum father with indifference and poorly-hidden shame. The only warmth Hutch feels is from the idolizing glow of his adorable young daughter Abby (Paisley Cadorath). When she looks at her daddy she sees safety and security. She sees her hero.
Things at home get worse after two robbers break into their suburban house in the middle of the night. Hutch passes on the chance to club the thug holding a gun on Blake leading to his son getting punched in the face and the robbers fleeing. This strains their relationship even more and pushes Hutch closer to the brink. But not in the Michael Douglas “Falling Down” sense. Hutch isn’t having a mental breakdown and he’s certainly not insane. He simply has a “dormant” side that’s suddenly itching to come out.
I won’t spoil things but let’s just say we are introduced to that “dormant” side during a ferocious bus sequence that should instantly be front-runner for fight scene of the year. And just like that we’re thrust into an underworld where titles like “the Barber” and “Auditor” are the norm. We’re introduced to the film’s antagonist, a Russian drug kingpin named Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), “a connected and funded sociopath” and babysitter for the “Obschak”. In gangland terms he manages and guards the Russian mob’s 401(k). And of course he has a slew of disposable henchmen, all dressed in black and armed to the teeth.
If you’re thinking all of that sounds pretty familiar you wouldn’t be wrong. We’ve seen variations of this story before. But several things make “Nobody” stand out. Tops on the list is Odenkirk who nails every shift and turn in his character (and there are several of them). He’s convincingly physical, funny, and even feral when things intensify. The movie also shows off a deliciously wicked and frankly wacky sense of humor. Whether it’s a perfectly timed line of dialogue, the hysterically over-the-top nature of some of the action, or the hilariously on-the-nose music choices from Louis Armstrong, Andy Williams, and the like. And then you have the great supporting cast. Connie Nielsen is always good so it’s no surprise she is here too. We also get a small but wildly entertaining role for Christopher Lloyd playing Hutch’s elderly father Harry. There’s even Michael Ironside, a face (and great voice) that I haven’t seen around in a while.
As “Nobody” propels forward the violence gets crazier and the body count mounts. Yet the movie never loses its self-awareness. Naishuller has a field day playing around with action genre norms and together with DP Pawel Pogorzelski puts together a number of thrilling sequences that are stylish and visually coherent (an often underestimated plus). And while it certainly has it’s fun, there is a nastiness to “Nobody” that might catch some folks off-guard. But that’s another part of what makes it such a rip-roaring ride. “Nobody” opens in theaters March 26th.
VERDICT – 4 STARS