Nobody

Nobody

2021, R, 92 min. Directed by Ilya Naishuller. Starring Bob Odenkirk, Alexey Serebryakov, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon.

REVIEWED By Richard Whittaker, Fri., March 26, 2021

It is always the quiet ones. Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) is a regular guy. So regular. Too regular. How can one guy have exactly the same problems every week, like clockwork, unless he’s really trying to be normal?

Of course, under the layer of normalcy is something seething, something barely restrained, something that would have come out eventually even if it weren’t for the trigger being pulled by a trifling incident. Because it’s clear in this bristling action satire that this happily (well, ish) married guy, with his successful realtor wife (Nielsen), loving kids, and grumpy dad (Lloyd, officially now a national treasure), has more than a seven-year itch to scratch. He was always just looking for that bad day to give him an excuse to bring out that bloody side that he’s kept so perfectly hidden, and that makes him so secretly terrifying. After all, if you know who the boogeyman is, doesn’t that mean he’s real, demystify hime? Hutch isn’t real, though. He is, as he explains after his bloody rampage, nobody.

Except he clearly isn’t. He has connections, skills, and a terrifying reputation to those in the know, as illustrated by a hilarious sight gag about a door. Suitably for Odenkirk, there’s a silly streak to Nobody, an absurdist trait that still makes sense when he blunders into developing a nemesis: Yulian Kuznetsov (Serebryakov, Leviathan), a Russian mobster who is, as one of Hutch’s nameless sources puts it, “a connected, funded sociopath, with resources to make things complicated.” In other words, exactly the kind of dance partner Hutch wants.

With his 2016 feature debut, POV action flick Hardcore Henry, director Ilya Naishuller tried to rewrite the visual language of the beat-’em-up, shoot-’em-up movie, but nobody has really adopted his dialect. So here he just goes for bare-knuckle simplicity, and it hits like a slapjack. When the violence starts, there’s nothing graceful or balletic. Naishuller sometimes even drops the soundtrack, because this is a guy beating morons to within an inch of their lives and taking a beating in the process. The difference between them and Hutch is that he’s not interested in lying down. Where would be the fun in that?

About that whole boogeyman thing: It’s hard not to see John Wick comparisons - a shadowy demimonde, Russian mobsters - but the difference is that Hutch really, really loves this shit. Yet this is Odenkirk, and under the score of jovial midcentury jazz, early rock & roll standards, and novelty songs, there’s a darkness that the inherently likable Keanu Reeves has rarely touched. There’s a flicker of a smile on Hutch’s face when he gets going that you could never imagine from Baba Yaga himself. Rather than being a rip-off, Nobody almost serves as a commentary on the antics of everyone’s favorite modern antihero. Odenkirk has proved with Better Call Saul that he’s able to walk in the shoes of the truly amoral, and Hutch’s path veers from the traditional sharp-shooting, granite-fisted ass-kicker so much that the invitation to question those tropes is clear. At the same time, Nobody pulls off one of the most ingenious final shoot-outs since Arnie raided the tool shed in Commando. And just like the best of the 1980s actioneers, Nobody has just the right mix of brains, brawn, and gut-busting laughs.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Nobody, Ilya Naishuller, Bob Odenkirk, Alexey Serebryakov, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon

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