It’s tempting to want to compare Nobody to John Wick. After all it does come from the same screenwriter, Derek Kolstad, and is very much cut from the same cloth—loose plot, killer on a rampage, high body count, lots of fun. It feels ready made for late night stoned arguments about who would win in a fight (John would) and they both do feel like they could be separate parts of the same universe.
So perhaps the comparisons are warranted, but I’m not sure they’re just.
Which isn’t to say that Nobody isn’t a whole heap of fun, because it is. Those of you who long for the action of yore will be more than thrilled at the 90 minute onslaught presented by Kolstad and director Ilya Naishuller (Hardcore Henry). It’s the best kind of mindless entertainment featuring a fantastic cast led by none other than Bob Odenkirk. There’s not a lot about Nobody that’s hard to enjoy.
Except for the fact that it feels so rote and familiar. That’s the problem with formulaic filmmaking, of course. When you have the one trick, even if you do it terribly well, it’s hard to stay focused. If Nobody has any flaw, fatal or otherwise, it’s that.
The film follows mild mannered accountant Hutch Mansell. Caught in a dead end job and loveless marriage with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen), his days bleed into each other in an endless loop of monotony and water treading. One night, however, thieves break into his house and, after failing to stop them, old secrets rise to the surface and Hutch becomes a one man whirlwind of violence that soon pits him against the Russian Mafia’s most psychopathic boss.
Odenkirk appears to be having the time of his life in his role, which makes him the action hero you never knew you needed him to be. He’s spent so much of his career as a comedian that action star didn’t seem too likely for him, but here we are. On the same token is Christopher Lloyd, co-starring as his father and a man with a secret or two of his own. Joining them is RZA, as Hutch’s brother.
As fun as Nobody often is, however, it’s never as intriguing as its cinematic cousin. For one, much of Hutch’s problems stem from him cleaning up his own mess, whereas John Wick has the driving force of vengeance. That creates a lack of narrative motivation that arguably lessens Nobody’s impact and makes it slightly less memorable in the scheme of things.
That said, it’s still an absolute blast to watch. Naishuller certainly has an eye for action even if he is lacking in the intricate choreography of Chad Stahelski, who brought us John Wick. Perhaps it doesn’t need it, though. Nobody is slightly more straight forward than Wick, and plays out more as a modern take on Death Wish than anything else.
Flawed though it might be, Nobody is still a damn blast that’s perfect for action fans, Odenkirk fans, and people who just need to turn their brains off for 90 minutes. There are no game changing, genre breaking moments that will alter the face of action, but it’s a perfect distillation of exploitation era action mixed with modern technique that is, if nothing else, fun as hell. At the end of the day, that’s all it was ever trying to be so, in that sense, Nobody is a rousing success.
Nobody is now playing in theaters everywhere.