Derek Kolstad helped define a new age of action with his scripts for John Wick, now, teaming up with Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller, we get to see the realistic action expanded to an average joe action hero in Nobody. Well, he’s not really a hero, but we’ll get to that later.
Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk, and let’s be honest, he’s not exactly who you think of when the phrase action star comes to mind. That said, as Hutch Mansell, Odenkirk showcases not only his acting ability but his physicality. Hutch is an underestimated, un assuming, and mild-mannered dad and husband, taking life’s indignities on the chin and never pushing back.
I would argue that “trained killer leaves life for wholesome family time only to be pulled back into killing” is its own action genre. And Nobody knows that, and plays with expectations that surround that. In most of those films, the lead character who has been pulled out of his quiet life just wants to return to it. And while Hutch definitely loves his family, there is a certain joy he gets from taking down targets that he misses.
This joy is tapped to again after two thieves break into his suburban home one night. While Hutch declines to defend himself or his family, hoping to prevent serious violence, his teenage son, Blake (), is disappointed in him and his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen), seems to pull only further away.
Yes, break-ins are often the catalyst for these kinds of action films but it’s truthfully the aftermath of the incident that lights up Hutch’s long-simmering rage and leaves him itching to fight.He’s propelled down a brutal path that puts him directly at odds with the Russian Mafia after a decision to let his rage free on a bus causes his world to turn upside down – even if its inadvertently.
What continues is a push for Hutch to not only save his family, but also letting himself give into his past life. Unlike other films in the genre, you can’t say that Hutch doesn’t want to go back to his former assassin life. In fact, there are multiple scenes where it is clear that Hutch wants the mobsters to escalate the situation. They’re bad people and for once in the years since he started his family, Hutch wants to be able to do something about them.
Additionally, Nobody gives us a family of trained killers – no not his teen son and young daughter, but rather his father (played by Christopher Lloyd) and his brother (played by the RZA). In fact those two characters offer up both levity and warmth to the film in a way that I really haven’t seen before. The film’s third act comes out of left-field but is beyond welcome. Throw in Aleksey Serebryakov as Yulian, the Russian mob boss, and the cast of Nobody is just as compelling and exciting to watch as the action sequences.
In truth, Nobody may travel the same trail as others before it, like Kolstad’s John Wick, but it makes it’s own way with more humor and charisma than the more silent and gritty counterparts. This isn’t saying that this film doesn’t go big on the violence – it most certainly does. I am saying that while Nobody uses fight choreography and progression where the protagonist gets injured and carries that with them through the film and changes everyday objects into weapons, it adds more humor. There is a joy in Odenkirk’s scenes as Hutch. While other action stars look pained by needing to get back in the ring Hutch is happy. Thrilled to get back in and get pushed to the limit.
But not only that, Hutch is nobody. There isn’t some long legend about him, in fact, if you saw him, you weren’t going to be making it out. When you couple that with Odenkirk’s unassuming demeanor and looks, you have the perfect combination for the film’s premise. The easiest way to become nobody isn’t to look like Keanu Reeves, it’s to just become a mild-mannered worker who goes for jogs and does pull-ups at a bus stop, and cooks homemade lasagna for his kids.
In this role Odenkirk is impactful when it comes to his physical performance but also his effortless execution of dry humor. Additionally, the small changes in Hutch as he begins to take joy in the toppling of the Russian mob are something to behold.
All in all, Nobody doesn’t just exist in the action genre but adds to it. It’s not about being a lone assassin, it’s not about a guy begrudgingly being called to the field, or even rescuing your family. Nobody is just about a guy getting back into a job he loved, getting some help from his family, and taking down the Russian mob at the same time.
Nobody opens in theaters March 26, 2021.
Nobody is just the film doesn’t just exist in the action genre but adds to it. It’s not about being a lone assassin, it’s not about a guy begrudgingly being called to the field, or even rescuing your family. Nobody is just about a guy getting back into a job he loved, getting some help from his family, and taking down the Russian mob at the same time.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.