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NOBODY (2021) Review

Neil reviews Universal Pictures NOBODY “a fun, brutal and visceral cinema going-experience.” Catch the film in cinemas now.

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Nobody (Universal Pictures)

Directed by Ilya Naishuller, Nobody stars Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, RZA, Aleksey Serebryakov and Christopher Lloyd. The film hits cinemas in the UK on June 9, 2021.

Synopsis

Sometimes the man you don’t notice is the most dangerous of all.

Emmy winner Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, The Post, Nebraska) stars as Hutch Mansell, an underestimated and overlooked dad and husband, taking life’s indignities on the chin and never pushing back. A nobody.

When two thieves break into his suburban home one night, Hutch declines to defend himself or his family, hoping to prevent serious violence. His teenage son, Blake (Gage Munroe, The Shack), is disappointed in him and his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen, Wonder Woman), seems to pull only further away.

The aftermath of the incident strikes a match to Hutch’s long-simmering rage, triggering dormant instincts and propelling him on a brutal path that will surface dark secrets and lethal skills. In a barrage of fists, gunfire and squealing tires, Hutch must save his family from a dangerous adversary (famed Russian actor Aleksey Serebryakov, Amazon’s McMafia)—and ensure that he will never be underestimated as a nobody again.

Review

Back in 2014 writer Derek Kolstad reinvented the action-thriller with the Chad Stahelski directed John Wick. That film offered up heavily choreographed, brutal violence set against a backdrop of complex narrative construct. With that film now spawning a franchise Kolstad has brought us his next creation, Nobody.

This time directed by Ilya Naishuller, Nobody offers fans a similar setup. There’s plenty of extreme action, car chases and explosions. But this time around the central focus of the film is what will ultimately prove to be its biggest draw.

At age 58, it’s fair to say that nobody expected Better Call Saul actor Bob Odenkirk to become an action hero. Starting out as a comedy writer, Odenkirk uses Nobody‘s slender 92 minute runtime to dispel even the most vocal critic. After around a year of intense training he handles the film’s every fight sequence like a pro. His past acting credits, including Breaking Bad, easily enabling him to handle anything Kolstad’s script throws his way.

Odenkirk aside, Nobody doesn’t break new ground. But it also doesn’t have to. Rather than reinventing a successful wheel it simply shifts playing field. Replacing John Wick‘s elaborate backstory with a simpler narrative allows the cast to have some real fun. Christopher Lloyd and Aleksei Serebryakov are two prime examples of actors thriving on the words they have been given. Even Connie Nielsen, relegated to long-suffering wife, seems to be savouring the experience.

The Mansell family (Nielsen, Gage Munroe and Paisley Cadorath) are none-the-wiser to dad Hutch’s past life as a ‘Nobody’. An auditor for America’s various three-letter agencies. A last ditch attempt to clean up others messes. He’s hidden his violent past so well he’s become a boring caricature of the family man. So much so then when he and his teenage son disturb burglars in the house, he’s seemingly too meek to act. But when it comes to light that daughter Sammy’s kitty cat bracelet is missing an old fire begins to burn.

Pinning the film’s bone-crunchingly violent turn on a missing bracelet it the perfect material for Odenkirk. His rampage begins with tracking down the burglars but quickly escalates. Falling foul of Serebryakov’s Yulian Kuznetsov, a Russian mob boss, sets Hutch on a path to destruction. It could all so easily fall into silly territory. But between high stakes action and Odenkirk’s pitch-perfect performance it all carries off seamlessly. Rejecting any sense of Stallone-style macho was absolutely the right choice. Instead, Hutch’s tenancy to balk at his own actions feels perfectly in character.

As with all great action-thrillers Nobody coalesces in to a huge third act. Roping in the seemingly stationary David (Lloyd) and previously unseen Harry (RZA), the family trio lays waste to the Russians. It’s the satisfying kind of seat-shaking action which will certainly thrill cinema-goers. After the smoke clears and the credits roll Nobody is able to deliver everything it needs to in order to thrill.

An honourable mention has to go to the film’s soundtrack. Featuring tracks from Pat Benatar, Nina Simone and Louis Armstrong, Nobody sounds outstanding. Just as with John Wick the film uses music to brilliant effect, punctuating in your face action with bombastic sounds.

Verdict

John Wick has some serious competition in Bob Odenkirk’s Hutch Mansell. Whilst Nobody doesn’t break new ground for the genre it does offer the viewer a funny, brutal, and visceral cinema going experience.


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