If the financial success of Godzilla vs Kong is any indication, moviegoers are in need of some mindless entertainment, and while you won’t find me endorsing a (fundamentally misguided) argument that this year’s Oscar nominees are especially sad, I certainly share the hankering. GvK might have scratched that initial itch for many, but those who prefer their action R-rated and bullet-riddled should look to Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody, now available for online rental as well as in theaters. If you get excited knowing it’s from the writer behind the John Wick franchise, this is definitely the movie for you – just think of it as John Wick’s lighthearted cousin (the family resemblance is… strong).
Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is a man in stasis. He works for his father-in-law, sleeps with a pillow-wall between him and his wife, and doesn’t have the respect of his son. When he chooses one night to let a pair of burglars go rather than take them down, and even the neighbors start to look down on him, Hutch reaches a breaking point. He’s become a person he doesn’t recognize, and he goes out looking for someone to remind him what kind of man he used to be. When one of those someones happens to be connected to the Russian mob, things escalate.
Even if there are a few new wrinkles, the degree to which screenwriter Derek Kolstad revisits the bones of John Wick is somewhat astonishing, and there’s little surprise to be found in the story. But the formula still works, in large part because the fight choreography is creative and thrilling, and Naishuller pursues a tone that is infectiously fun. There’s something magic about watching actors on screen who look like they’re having a great time, and Odenkirk’s foray into action embodies that perfectly. He is so wonderfully convincing that you believe he is as deadly as he looks at any given moment. You completely buy him taking out a group of armed gangsters single-handed in the moment, but as soon as the moment’s over, it seems impossible again. It makes for a very enjoyable 90-minutes.
Though Hutch isn’t the only one having fun, he definitely hogs the character development; the villain is only serviceable, Hutch’s wife and kids barely exist, and the actually engaging supporting players (Christopher Lloyd and RZA as Hutch’s father and half-brother) are a little late to the party. The comic beats are handled well, but a few small moments of characterization here and there would’ve gone a long way. But Nobody has its strengths in the right places, and audiences will leave having gotten exactly what they came for. Plus, if this kickstarts a new action phase of Odenkirk’s career, it will have more than served its purpose.
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