Director: Ilya Naishuller. Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Christopher Lloyd, Aleksey Serebryakov, The RZA. Rated R. Color. 92 Minutes.
It has been a long year of watching movies from home, but fortunately theaters are finally open in New Mexico! To say that standing in line to buy a large popcorn and soda was a surreal experience does not fully capture how meaningful a trip to the theater is for movie lovers. Boy does it feel good to be back at the movies.
“Nobody” is a surprisingly entertaining action/comedy film that doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. Bob Odenkirk ( from “Better Call Saul” fame) stars as Hutch Mansell, a seemingly ordinary civilian whose quiet suburban lifestyle perpetually gets the best of him while struggling with the mundane routine of everyday life. When two desperate home intruders rob him in the middle of the night for a small amount of cash and his wristwatch, he stands idly by while they intimidate him with a revolver and scuffle with his teenage son who attempts to fight them off himself. After catching flak from the police, neighbors, and his coworkers for not intervening, Hutch tries to remain a pacifist, but upon learning that the burglars inadvertently stole his daughter’s precious kitty bracelet, Hutch finally loses it. After tracking down the burglars to retrieve the bracelet and expertly fighting off some drunken punks on a city bus who turn out to be Russian mobsters, it is apparent that Hutch is an extremely skilled assassin who gave up a career of violent work to settle down and have a family. The ensuing plot is as predictable as you might expect where the Russian mob places a bounty on his head with carnage and mayhem transpiring.
Let me start by saying that despite not being a masterpiece of filmmaking, acting, or storytelling, this is a fun movie. The film has several scenes that mix comedy and violence quite effectively and it does not try to reach for themes it cannot grasp at. Christopher Lloyd (from “Back to the Future” fame) plays Hutch’s father who hilariously steals the show in every scene he is in. Aleksey Serebryakov, who plays the Russian mobster Yulian, is a psychopathic killer that is also a charismatic karaoke singer, providing comedic relief to what would otherwise be a horrifying example of a human being. The fight sequences, although over the top, are well done and it is obvious that Bob Odenkirk did a fair amount of tactical training to give believability to the character. Hutch Mansell is no John Wick, but you accept what is presented on the screen and end up enjoying the film.
Unfortunately, there are a number of things I just can’t let slide in this film. Subplots regarding Hutch’s family dynamics are poorly fleshed out at best such as a broken relationship with his wife and the attempt at rectifying their marriage which does not feel genuine at all. His son’s disapproval for failing to take action during the earlier home invasion is never reconciled despite his impressive rampage that is deserving of some major father/son redemption. There is an embarrassing and unnecessary sequence after a major shootout in his home where Hutch organizes the dead bodies of the hitmen sent to kill him on a couch in his basement and proceeds to monologue his real backstory before burning down the place and all the evidence using a ‘special’ vinyl copy of Louis Armstrong’s classic “What a Wonderful World” that is engineered to set off the fire when played. I felt that the they had already done a good job of implying his backstory and both Byrd and myself share a disdain for films who treat their audiences like idiots and explicitly spell out simple plot points for them. I may be nitpicking on these last few criticisms, but with all the shooting, stabbing, and fighting that takes place, it is insane that Hutch did not require weeks of recovery in the ICU before continuing on his mission. It is also absurd that the police are never called during these massive gunfight set pieces as surely a neighbor or two would be uncomfortable hearing the sounds of rapid gunfire and shattering glass next door.
In the end, I cannot deny that I had a fantastic time watching this film that had the opportunity to make a social commentary on political relations with Russia, chime in on the highly discussed second amendment debate, or offer an opinion about the general unrest among citizens of this country that we are bombarded with every day in the media. Instead it took the opportunity to give us 92 minutes of pure and simple action. Is Nobody destined to become a cinematic classic? Doubtful. Is it absurd at every level? Absolutely. Is it entertaining and well worth a trip to the theater? Damn Straight!