Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, RZA, Christopher Lloyd, Aleksey Serebryakov
Run Time: 92 mins
Nobody is directed by Ilya Naishuller and provides a vehicle for Bob Odenkirk as Taken and John Wick did for Liam Neeson and Keanu Reeves. There have been many action films recently that historically dramatic actors have taken on in an effort to rejuvenate their career and not all have worked out, for example Sean Penn with The Gunman. The story of Nobody is pretty familiar for the genre. Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, a father who lives a seemingly average life with two kids he cares deeply for, a loving wife (Connie Nielsen), a routine and mundane job and his father (Christopher Lloyd) lives in a care home. However, Mansell has a past and when his particular set of skills are required, we learn he is actually an ex-CIA government assassin, who people certainly don’t want to mess with.
Nobody is far from an original concept but it is very entertaining and its main asset is Bob Odenkirk’s electric and deadpan performance. There are some kinetic action sequences, particularly a sequence in a bus and the climax. Pawel Pogorzelski’s cinematography is far more first-person POV than the longer shots in John Wick, very much in the vein of Naishuller’s Hardcore Henry and unlike his more showy work on Hereditary and Midsommar. Also unlike John Wick, Hutch Mansell is a far more vulnerable character and he doesn’t come away from his fights unscathed. There are many occasions where he is battered in the process. Christopher Lloyd also has some strong moments, particularly in the third act as Mansell’s father, as does RZA as Hutch’s brother. When the film is at its best, it really is a hoot and Naishuller has a clear understanding of the mechanics of B-movie, trashy exploitation pieces in his direction.
Nobody isn’t quite as strong a film as its competitors as it can’t sustain its energy in its quieter moments. There is a lot of build up before the first action sequence, which is perfectly acceptable for a film of this type but it lacks tension or depth. The supporting characters, in particular, his family could have been better developed and the events in which Mansell finds himself suddenly needing to use his action skills aren’t quite as simplistic and clear-cut for a film of this type and a lot of the plot feels coincidental.
Nobody is ultimately far better than it has any right to be considering its heavy influences and could very easily have been an uninteresting cash grab. Its main draws are its beautifully choreographed action sequences to enjoy, a refreshingly light tone and an excellent performance from Bob Odenkirk. Given Nobody’s critical success, it is likely there will be a sequel which would be exciting, but it needs a few more ingredients to further differentiate it from its competitors and tighter pacing.