VOD film review: Nobody
James R | On 18, Jul 2021
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, RZA, Michael Ironside, Aleksey Serebryakov, Gage Munroe, Colin Salmon
What would it take for a mild-mannered everyman to go back into his work as a black-ops assassin? That’s the question at the heart of Nobody, which follows Hutch, a downtrodden family man and office worker who harbours a hidden past as a trained hitman. After getting out and grabbing a semblance of normal family life, why would he revert to a life of violence in the shadows?
It’s a familiar question to anyone who’s seen The Equaliser, Taken, John Wick and other films of that ilk, and here, the revenge threshold turns out to be a pair of masked burglars who put Hutch family in peril – and, more specifically, cause his son to lose all respect for him, after he fails to take out the goons in question. When he finds out that the thieves took his daughter’s kitty-cat bracelet too, he goes after them to get it back. When they turn out to be connected to a Russian mafioso, though, a brutal tit-for-tat unfolds that escalates into carnage.
Somewhere between a warehouse shootout and destroying a bus with a bout of extreme fisticuffs, the real answer becomes apparent: Hutch is reverting to his nasty ways because he secretly enjoys them. He finds satisfaction in the bone-crunching masculinity of it all. While that sounds like a timely premise, rife for examining and deconstructing modern notions of manliness – even with a wry, darkly comic eye – Nobody isn’t really interested in any of that. Why? Because it secretly enjoys all that violence too.
“Secretly” is the wrong word, though, as director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry) isn’t interested in subtlety either: this is a loud affair, from the sound of each punch thrown to the shameless needle-drops on the soundtrack that accompany each burst of action with ironically upbeat classics.
There is fun to be had in the spectacle of it all, from Christopher Lloyd having a ball as Hutch’s dad to Bob Odenkirk himself, who is superb at quiet sighs, weary fatigue and – it turns out – facing down a bus load of criminals. As a showcase for the Better Call Saul star, Nobody is a delight, and should lead to more opportunities for the character actor and comic to play the leading man. It’s just a shame here that, beyond the layers of character that Odenkirk brings, there’s not much on the page to make this man a more substantial figure – the scenes with his apparently understanding wife (an under-used Connie Neilsen) highlight what’s missing to make Nobody more of a somebody.