Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 32 minutes, Director – Ilya Naishuller
A former intelligence agency worker (Bob Odenkirk) finds himself the target of a Russian mob boss (Aleksey Serebryakov) after an attempted night-time robbery in his home.
There are plenty of action films where a character will say a line just before a needle-drop where you know that it’s about to go down. Nobody is filled with such moments. Each one bringing the viewer closer to the screen in giddy anticipation to see how someone’s face is going to meet Bob Odenkirk’s bloodied fist next. Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, by day he’s a number-cruncher for his father-in-law’s (Michael Ironside) factory, by night he oversleeps so that he misses the chance to put the bins out. It’s a mundane life of repetition as distanced as his relationships with his family appear to be. Excitement arrives when one night Hutch finds his home being subject to an attempted robbery. Not much is stolen – a few dollars, his watch and his daughter’s prized kitty-cat bracelet – however the family man who once plodded through life finds himself subject to ridicule from neighbours and friends as they tell him how they would have engaged in full combat with the would-be burglars.
Where the narrative then runs almost feels like a classic episode of The Simpsons. One random thing is built up to then lead to almost absurd, unrelated heights. Setting out to prove himself Hutch soon finds his situation spiralling. His façade of a normal life is shattered as he becomes the target of Russian crime boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov). It’s here that we learn about Hutch’s past life as an “auditor” for various intelligence agencies and it’s made clear that there will indeed be glorious action.
Nobody has already received plenty of comparisons to the successful John Wick franchise – screenwriter Derek Kolstad has worked on the script for each title. There are plenty of (literally) explosive knife, gun and good old fashioned fist fights to call back to the series, however there are also sequences that feel inspired by, what was viewed to be Wick’s rival at the time, The Equalizer. What sets this out from both features is the levels of humour that the film brings in. Far from that of a generic, cheesy action film, and not exactly one-liners as some may have come to expect from the ‘geriaction’ genre – of which this doesn’t really fit into, although the age of the central figure is subject to a couple of prods and nudges – it’s simply small details that involve themselves in the ensuing violence and bloodshed, adding to the overall entertainment value of the film. As things pan out and circumstances escalate it’s hard not to let out giggles of joy as more and more great introductory lines and needle-drops are introduced. Paving the way for moments that can only be described as COOL!
Director Ilya Naishuller – with previous action experience on the first-person perspective feature Hardcore Henry – makes sure to keep things fast-paced and engaging. The run-time is only 92 minutes, with credits. While the violence is often centre-stage it’s never completely dwelled on. While some might choose to show a triple headshot in slow-motion for full effect Naishuller simply shows the event happening as it happens and moves on; managing to have more effect on the pacey nature of the piece. As open-road car chases smoothly lead into enclosed battles and trap detonations there’s plenty of exciting, entertaining thrills that lead you to sit on the edge of your seat, leaning forward towards the screen in anticipatory joy.
The initial gradual build-up of Hutch’s conventional mundane everyday family man routine pays off when it comes to the ensuing action. It’s a worthwhile build-up that also acts as a near deception for the audience, almost unprepared for what’s to come as you witness the, still amusing, normal life of Odenkirk’s wonderfully performed character; it’s clear that he’s having a great time. As he grunts and stabs a group of Russian home-invaders for ruining a perfectly calm family lasagne dinner it’s hard to not want to punch the air, or raise both fists up in celebration, as he puts long-dormant skills to use. Even the brief appearances of Christopher Lloyd, who it’s wonderful to see, elicit this response. It’s all down to the highly entertaining nature of Nobody and the humour in which it carries with itself. Not taking things too seriously and recognising, alongside Odenkirk, exactly who its main character is. Allowing for a violently COOL! audience experience.
Much like Odenkirk’s wonderfully performed main character, Nobody slightly deceives you, before transforming into an endlessly entertaining action flick that knows not to be without humour, injected well into the effective violence and needle drops.