MOVIE REVIEW: Nobody

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

This week I finally got the chance to sit down and watch, what ended up being, my favorite action movie of the year. Considering how much I love The MCU, some of you might be thinking I’m talking about Marvel’s Black Widow, which opened this week. And yes, you can bet your ass that I went out my way to see Black Widow. Sure, I liked Black Widow. In fact we’re going to do an in-depth, spoiler-filled, deep dive into the film in a few days, but I’m not talking about Black Widow here. The movie that absolutely blew my goddamn socks off, easily one of my favorite movies of the year… was Bob Odenkirk’s Nobody.

 With a few notable exceptions, 2021 has been a relatively slow year for movies. Especially good movies. Which is why watching Nobody starring critically acclaimed actor and comedy legend Bob Odenkirk, was such a delight. Odenkirk has been working in Hollywood for decades, getting his start as a comedy writer. Over the last decade, he’s been best known for his role as sleazy lawyer, Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, a series widely  regarded as one of the best in television history. Odenkirk reprised his role as the character again, in the nearly equally as lauded prequel series, Better Call Saul.

  Some might be surprised to see Bob Odenkirk out there doing his best John Wick impression, in a spectacular, action-thriller, like Nobody. However, anyone familiar with the man’s career and talent, shouldn’t find his ability to almost seamlessly step into such a different genre, all that unexpected. Like science-fiction and horror, comedic entertainers are rarely recognized properly for the level of talent it takes to succeed and excel in their genre. Time and again, some of our greatest comedic actors, like Jim Carrey or Robin Williams, have made incredible transitions into more dramatic work. Bob Odenkirk gave everything he had to make this movie work and make his character a believable and compelling bad ass. All of his hard work payed off, because it shows on screen. All the blood, sweat, and tears. By his own admission, this type of physical challenge didn’t come naturally to him. So he spent years working with some of the best stunt performers and martial artists in Hollywood to get him where he needed to be for the role. After watching the movie, his character Hutch Mansell, wouldn’t seem out of place frequenting The Continental, the assassins hotel in the John Wick series.

For those of you who don’t know, Nobody is the story of a seemingly milquetoast, mild mannered man, named Hutch Mansell. But underneath the facade of suburban dad, Hutch is much more than he seems. He’s married to a beautiful woman named Becca played by Connie Nielsen and they have two children together, a teenage son and a young daughter (His daughter  seems to be the only person in his life to show Hutch any kind of genuine love and respect). However, from the moment he wakes up every morning until he goes to bed at night, each day is an identical, soul crushing, never ending loop. His wife feels like a stranger and they haven’t fucked since God knows when. His teenage son doesn’t respect him, and Hutch spends his days working behind a desk, endlessly typing numbers into a spreadsheet. He’s a man going through the motions of life, but not actually living it.

   All that begins to change after a home invasion incident. The home invasion itself isn’t a big deal. They don’t kill his puppy and steal his car or anything like that. Hutch and his son walk in on a desperate couple wielding a gun isn’t even loaded, attempting to steal whatever they can from Hutch’s home. Hutch could have easily taken the intruders apart. He knows how easy it would be to kill the duo, but it seems like he almost pities them. Hutch allows the thieves to leave. In the aftermath, Hutch’s son and many of the other people around him, view him as a coward who failed to act in protection of his family, having no knowledge of the carnage Hutch is capable of. In the following days, something begins to reawakens in Hutch and it begs to be fed. Hutch may look like a “nobody”, but in truth he is a former CIA assassin. An extremely deadly and skilled assassin at that. He thought he left that life and that part of himself behind, to start a family and live a “normal“ life (whatever the fuck that is), but the beast inside Hutch has awakened and it is fucking ravenous.

Bob Odenkirk, who also produced the film, came up with the idea for Nobody after experiencing a home invasion in real life, similar to one we see in the film. Because of his long history as a comedy writer and performer, Odenkirk’s vision for this film was to play it completely straight, a brutal, hard-hitting action movie. He didn’t want to make a tongue-in-cheek movie, with a wink and a nod to the audience. He liked the idea that this isn’t the kind of role audiences wouldn’t expect to see him in. Bob has said that he really wanted to push himself in both mind and body, the challenge that this movie presented was nothing like anything he’d ever done before. Which was one of the reasons he found it exciting. 

   It takes awhile to put a movie like this together, so as a producer Odenkirk knew he had a few years to get himself ready while the film was being developed. He turned to 87Eleven Action Design, one of the best stunt teams in the business, and began intense stunt and martial arts training with them as early as November 2017. That’s some impressive commitment.

Some of the fight scenes in this film called to mind the brutality and realism of the Netflix Daredevil series, which is extremely high praise. The best example of this, and probably my favorite action sequence in the movie, is “The Bus Fight“. Like Matt Murdoch, Bob Odenkirk‘s Hutch isn’t a super soldier, he’s a man. An extremely fucking bad-ass man, but a man nonetheless. Which makes you really feel, every brutal kick, punch, and stab. “The Bus Fight“ is my favorite scene in the movie, for the same reason I really loved this film in general, it wouldn’t work unless Odenkirk was performing the predominant amount of the stunts himself. As I already mentioned once before, Bob knew that he wasn’t naturally inclined for this type of physical action, so you gotta respect the hell out of fact that he spent years, basically getting his ass kicked by bad-ass, career stunt men and martial artists to make himself ready and believable for the film. Even while working on other projects, like Better Call Saul, he continued to train and work his ass off. Oedenkirk and the stunt team seemed to really hit it off, as a result many of the stunt performers that Hutch fights in the film are the same guys who spent years working with Bob and teaching him how to fight. The rapport that developed over years of working with each other, makes it easier to push the envelope and make the action scenes as real as possible. The collaboration between the guys at Eighty Seven Eleven and Bob Oedenkirk really shines through in scenes like this.

  I want to give a special shout out to the director Ilya Naishuller. In the wrong hands,Nobody may not have worked as well as it did. He does a great job of using editing, blocking, and camera placement to help tell the story. He flawlessly uses the tools he has on hand to create the mood and tone necessary for any given scene. Whether it’s a car chase or a close quarters hand to hand fight sequence, he’s a brilliant action director. Naishuller seems equally as comfortable with the movie’s quieter, more emotional moments, a touching and honest scene between Hutch and Becca about halfway through the film comes to mind. As a relatively young filmmaker, Ilya Naishuller is definitely a director to keep your eyes on.

There’s so many things I love about this movie. I don’t want to get too much into spoiler territory but, for example there’s a massive action sequence that features Bob Odenkirk, RZA, and Christopher Lloyd fighting together, back to back, in a full blown, balls to the walls, battle to the death with the Russian mob. Who would ever think to put that trio together? It’s just another testament to the fun and ingenuity of thins film. It’s one of those moments that makes you think “Man, I’ve gone my whole life without realizing how much I needed to see this insane team up of Bob Odenkirk, RZA, and Christopher Lloyd kicking ass and taking names together. But now I’m watching it and it’s fucking GLORIOUS”. One of Nobody’s strengths is the great supporting cast, who each bring something interesting to the movie. Like RZA (who plays Hutch’s brother), who’s a lifelong student of martial arts and martial arts cinema. He’s directed a few martial arts films himself and even directed a few episodes of Marvel’s Iron Fist on Netflix. Then of course, there’s Christopher Lloyd who’s always a joy to see pop up in a movie and he’s exceptionally fun in this film as Hutch’s dad. Connie Nielsen as Hutch’s wife Becca, is talented as ever and somehow hasn’t aged a day since Gladiator. She and Bob Odenkirk have great chemistry together and share some movie’s best non-action scenes. Nielsen and Odenkirk have some touching and tender moments that are among the most important beats in the movie. 

If the film has a weakness, it’s the inevitable comparisons to John Wick. The John Wick films have become one of the most influential action franchises of the last decade. While there are certainly similarities, I think they’re mostly superficial and coincidental. John Wick is the gold standard for action films right now, so any film in the genre will of course draw comparisons to the franchise. I think the fantastic performance by Bob Odenkirk, the fight choreography, the stunts work, the supporting cast, and even some great music, makes Nobody stand head and shoulders above the rest. 

Bob Odenkirk absolutely fucking crushes it with Nobody . I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more successful 180 from an actor. He’s so goddamn impressive as a action bad-ass, that you almost don’t even notice he still giving an incredible performance throughout the entire film, action or no action. This a fantastic movie and a MUST WATCH! 

Nobody is available on Blu-Ray/4K, On Demand, ITunes, and digital download everywhere.

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-Paul

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