Nobody begins with a montage of quick shots showing the routine of its central character, Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk). He makes coffee in the morning, forgets to take the garbage out on time, goes to work as an accountant, has dinner with his family, etc. The montage is designed to show us that he's an ordinary guy. Except that he's not. Hutch is certainly trying to be, but circumstances are about to become out of his control.
When two would-be thieves break into his home brandishing a gun, Hutch passes up a perfect opportunity to gain the upper hand, allowing them to escape in the process. This proves massively disappointing to wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and son Blake (Gage Monroe). Feeling as though he's let the family down, something inside Hutch snaps. There's not a lot of plot in Nobody, so to preserve any surprises, I'll just say that Hutch sets out to find the home invaders, crossing the path of a Russian criminal in the process. The rest of the picture is spent with him fighting off the man's goons – and he's surprisingly good at fighting for an accountant.
If something about this sounds very John Wick-ian, there's a reason. Nobody was written by Derek Kolstad, who wrote the three existing chapters of that series, and produced by David Leitch, who is a credited producer on them. The difference is that those movies starred established action hero Keanu Reeves, whereas this one stars Bob Odenkirk, an actor who seems a highly unlikely choice to kick copious amounts of ass onscreen. That's the prime joke, that this normal-looking middle-aged man is actually highly dangerous.
In the wrong hands, that could make for a film that fizzles out very quickly. Nobody avoids the pitfall via a number of smart moves. The first is casting Odenkirk. Aside from being an inherently interesting actor, he's shockingly good in the fight scenes. If he wasn't, the whole premise would crumble. The actor looks comfortable shooting, stabbing, kicking, punching, and pummeling baddies. Odenkirk doesn't pull the Steven Seagal “I'm going to let my stunt double do all the physical stuff” nonsense. He may use a double for certain shots, but mostly he's right there onscreen, visibly doing the work and doing it well.
Another good decision was to make the movie's tone ridiculously over-the-top. One especially amazing action scene finds Hutch taking on four punks inside a city bus. He wraps that cord you pull to request a stop around one guy's neck, causing the sign to flash repeatedly. That's just one of many visually humorous moments scattered throughout. Nobody is, to that extent, a spoof of all the macho tough-guy action movies we've had over the years. It takes the elements we've grown used to and makes them fresh and funny by kicking them up several notches. Seeing a muscleman like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone cracking heads can be pleasurable. Seeing a man with a "dad bod" do it just as brutally makes for a nice subversion of the typical action tropes.
Clever use of carefully selected songs on the soundtrack, a strong supporting performance from Connie Nielsen, and truly impressive fight choreography add to the fun. (It's cool that Hutch isn't a superman; he gets hurt, too, in the brawling.) Christopher Lloyd also appears as Hutch's father, and former Wu-Tang Clan member RZA plays his presumably adopted brother. I never knew that I needed to have these gentlemen paired onscreen until now. You won't find a more amusing odd couple.
Directed by Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry), Nobody has no intention to be anything other than a big, crazy action flick. On that level, it works beautifully, providing ninety-two fast-paced minutes of pure, bloody entertainment. And Odenkirk is the new Reeves.
out of four
Nobody is rated R for strong violence and bloody images, language throughout and brief drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 32 minutes.