Bob Odenkirk is probably one of the last actors one would imagine as an action hero. That’s not taking anything away from his talents, either. He was very successful in Comedy, and showed off his drama chops in acclaimed TV shows, but he’s not a physically imposing man who invokes danger. Be that as it is, Odenkirk completely subverts expectations in his latest film, Nobody, which makes a point to subvert audience expectations at almost every turn, and is highly entertaining when doing so.
Set for release in theaters on Friday, March 26th via Universal Pictures, Nobody, directed by Russian Filmmaker Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry 2015, Karamora series), tells the story of a bored everyman named Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk: Mr. Show series, Better Call Saul series). Hutch is in the state of disassociation from his life; up early, make breakfast, go to work, come home for a bit of free time, rinse and repeat. His job is soulless and unrewarding, and he is a completely unassuming American guy; the definition of a nobody. That all changes when two thieves target his home for an invasion. Hutch and his son manage to get the better of the invaders, but after blowing an opportunity to clobber one with a golf club, which leads to them escaping, Hutch loses respect and is thought of as a man who can’t protect his family.
Hutch is more depressed than ever after this, and during the course of trying to redeem himself to his family, a twist of fate puts him into much more serious danger – the kind that involves the Russian mob. It is here where the tone of the movie shifts dramatically. Hutch dives head first into this new danger in an absolutely brutal fight scene on a city bus, where he takes on five tough men alone. One of these men is the brother of Yulian (Aleksei Serebryakov: Leviathan 2014, Van Goghs 2018), and he is less than pleased with Hutch.
One might think they know where the story goes from here, but they would be mistaken. In fact, this will repeat throughout the film. The usual journey of the jaded working man, the redemption of a man who lost his family, or the lone avenger up against impossible odds; all of these are familiar tropes, but Nobody strings the viewer along just enough to make them think it will go one way only to go in the opposite, often in shocking fashion. Everyone underestimates a nobody, and for much of the film viewers will too.
Odenkirk couldn’t be better as Hutch. The character wears many hats throughout the story, and Odenkirk fits into each one seamlessly. Serebryakov is equal parts amusing and terrifying as the main antagonist. He’s very charismatic and chews up every scene he’s in, and, like Hutch, can switch from droll to dead serious at the drop of a hat. There is also great support from Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future 1985, The Addams Family 1991) and RZA (American Gangster 2007, The Dead Don’t Die 2019), who play Hutch’s father and half-brother, respectively.
As the movie progresses it takes itself less and less seriously, which is a good thing in this case. The more we learn about Hutch and what he is capable of when pushed, the better the tonal shifts are to match. The danger grows exponentially as the story progresses, and after a while we can see director Naishuller’s talent for action sequences flourish. From closed spaces like the house and bus, to spacious warehouses and fast-paced car chases, all of it is filmed with great skill and an undeniable passion for the craft.
Nobody is one of the best action films of recent years. It’s a fun and entertaining ride with a creative narrative and an interesting spin on typical action heroes. The physicality displayed and endured by Odenkirk is also highly impressive. It’s easy to forget he’s a man pushing 60 when he is moving and acting like he’s at least 20 years younger. It’s one of the best movies of the year so far, and is recommended, especially for action film fans. For these reasons, Cryptic Rock gives Nobody 4 out of 5 stars.