Imagine for a moment that it’s the second year of a new decade. It shouldn’t take too much imagining because we’re in 2021, but think back to the release of the film Raging Bull. It was declared the best movie of the 1980’s. In 1980. Nobody is a bit like that. We’re only in the second year of the 2020’s, but Nobody is already in consideration for best action movie of the decade. Director Ilya Naishuller brings across a movie that somehow blends the best elements from action (and some not action) films of the past 40 years.
If the movie feels like John Wick a bit, that’s because it’s coming from the same writer, Derek Kolstad. You get the best of: American Beauty, John Wick, Death Wish, and The Equalizer in this film. Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk as Hutch Mansell. We’ll get to just how amazing Odenkirk’s performance is in a minute. It also stars Gage Monroe as Hutch’s son, Blake, and Connie Nielsen as his wife, Becca. Rounding out the cast is Paisley Cadorath as Hutch’s daughter, Abby, Alexey Serebryakov as the somewhat villain, Yulian, and has special appearances by Michael Ironside, RZA, and Christopher Lloyd.
Sure the film has it’s weak spots. It falls into the trapping of most modern day action films with a terrific premise, but leans into the classic structure. But you know what? That doesn’t matter. Because the film is fantastic, so let’s start with Odenkirk’s performance.
If The Academy Actually Gave A Crap About Film, Odenkirk Would Get A Nomination For This Performance
I don’t know about you, but when I think of Bob Odenkirk, I do not think of ass-kicking action star. The more typical side of Odenkirk shows in the first section of the film more than any other. He’s a typical family-man who’s pushed around, and lives a menial life. His “manhood” is tested when two criminals break into his house. From here, his son takes down one of them, and he has the shot at hitting the other with a golf club, but chooses not to. He lets them go with the cash they’ve stolen and his watch.
He’s emasculated. Everyone around him reminds him of the moment that he could have been a man, and chose passivity. His neighbor has a new sports car that’s a physical reminder of the whole situation. What sets off the action star inside Odenkirk? A kitty-cat bracelet. In one of the best moments of the early section of the film, Odenkirk breaks into the thieves apartment, and you see just what kind of man he is. It’s not one of violent rage against people trying to make ends meet. He’s compassionate, even after getting back what was stolen from him.
From that point on, you get one of the best extended action sequences on a city bus that I’ve ever seen. Yes, Hutch rides the bus to and from work.
More On Bob Odenkirk Because He’s The Goddamn Star Of The Film
I did not expect Bob Odenkirk to kick this much ass. Where was this all these years? Was it just waiting for the right movie to come along? Because I want to see him kick more ass than ever now. His quest to get back a kitty-cat bracelet morphs into a plot involving the Russian Mafia and adds wrinkles to Hutch’s character throughout. It’s an expose in subverting expectations with almost everything besides the finale. Odenkirk is allowed to stretch his comedic chops here though. That’s the one difference between this film and something like John Wick. While the cartoonish displays of violence and action might be comedic, Nobody gives the film an extra element of comedy that you don’t get in a lot of action films.
Specifically, it’s not like the buddy action comedy, it’s a dark humor that gives Hutch an advantage over a lot of other action characters. Not to be like other action films though, for as much ass kicking that Odenkirk doles out, he takes it all right back. In the bus scene alone, he gets just as messed up as the guys he’s beating the crap out of.
The scenes where Hutch is just full on action star might be the best of the whole movie though. His confidence facing down insurmountable odds and going into the lion’s den of Russian mobs with a smile on his face is palpable.
Odenkirk is flat out awesome in this movie, and it would not be nearly as good with anyone else in the starring role.
The Only Detractions Are Nitpicking And You Should Be Ashamed If You Don’t Like This Film
You can make the case that the villain Yulian doesn’t really have any depth as a character. Or that the plot is paper thin and built upon a HUGE suspension of disbelief. Well, if you’re actually watching the film, Yulian has a bit of an edge to his character. He makes choices throughout the film that lend to the character being more well-rounded than most Russian Mob-esque bad guys. Hutch offers him a choice to take his losses and leave or come duke it out for a final showdown. Naturally he picks the final showdown, but it’s not before a bit of thinking on his part. Yulian wants out of his life in the Mob. He seems content owning the nightclub and singing karaoke.
The plot is, admittedly, thin. But what are you expecting? The plot is not the central device of this film. It’s there to keep the story moving along and for you to get more scenes with Odenkirk and company.
I Want To Scream On Rooftops About This Film
What makes this film so remarkable? It’s all the pieces that coalesce into the final film. You have the sort of trick by casting Bob Odenkirk in the starring role. It subverts your expectations multiple times. So while it might be a standard action affair, it rises above the majority of the crop because of how it gets from Point A to Point B. You have excellent casting that takes normally comedic or action oriented stars like Michael Ironside and Christopher Lloyd and switches their roles basically.
It’s almost cartoonish in the way that it presents itself after the first twenty minutes. But it never veers into that territory fully. The ride is full of crowd-pleasing, endlessly fun, thrilling moments that will leave you with a huge, dumb, smile on your face at the end.
You can add Hutch Mansell to the pantheon of action heroes including: John Rambo, Paul Kersey, and John Wick. If they ever make The Expendables 4, I want Bob Odenkirk in it.
It’ll captivate you from the opening scene all the way through it’s heavily stylized hour and a half run-time.
Nobody opens in theaters on March 26th.
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