Bob Odenkirk is a great actor as we’ve seen breaking Bad and Better call Saul. He’s a fan favorite and it’s easy to see why; His charisma and “Jedermann” quality are immensely attractive, which is probably why he was cast as the leading actor Nobody, an action thriller about a man who seeks revenge.
Where have we seen this kind of story before? OK, lots of places, though recently? It was a direct hit in 2014 John Wickstarring Keanu Reeves, who followed the story of his quest for retribution after gangsters killed his puppy, his dead wife’s final gift. From there, things turn into non-stop fights and action as Wick devotes all his energy to defeating the bad guys who changed his life. This went on for three full length films, and yes, a John Wick: Chapter 4 come!
We see much of the same storyline in here Nobodyexcept we moved to the suburbs and got rid of the John Wick black trench coat badasserie. As Hutch Mansell (who chose that name?), Odenkirk is the father and husband of a family who are remarkably comfortable with his activities. Replace Wick’s dead puppy with Mansell’s daughter “Kitty Cat Bracelet” as a catalyst for violence and you have it.
A bracelet? Is that why he’s going on a rampage of violence?
Yes, as highlighted in the trailer, that’s why Mansell is taking revenge: In a botched robbery, two thieves allegedly steal the bracelet from his family’s home and rekindle Mansell’s taste for action. What the trailer doesn’t tell you is that this is just the beginning. The bracelet is just the tip of the iceberg, and the movie goes on for an hour (or more) as it beats anyone who stands in its way. To be honest, it’s a lot, and you might be wondering why so many people die or are badly injured for a man’s perceived flaws, especially for a bracelet.
Somehow, John Wick managed to tell the same story but also built a world around Wick. It made sense and it was understandable that Wick had accomplished his mission. He is a well-known fighter, has no family or loved ones to speak of, and fits into that form of the “superhero” type. It’s hard to get on his side with Mansell. Of course, you’re still rooted for him since he’s the protagonist of the film, but you wonder why a man with a family keeps fighting big, strange men on public transport and elsewhere … and wins.
There’s a slight satirical slant that explains the tone of the film and a booming, ironic soundtrack meant to highlight its absurdity.
But is the action good?
There is no doubt that if violence and combat sequences are your thing, you will be satisfied Nobody and have a lot of fun. The above-mentioned fight scene in a bus is arguably the piece of resistance of the film with astonishing choreography and flow. At this point in the film, Mansell’s appetite for violence has been piqued, and this is the first of many shutdowns.
More takedowns? A bracelet everywhere?
We are told that Mansell is very protective of his family. They even have a “safe room” in their home as it has apparently been involved in this type of behavior before. We finally discover – spoiler alert – that he used to be a government assassin. The bracelet thing is going as fast as it came, with the focus instead on a group of Russian gangsters firmly attached to a badly injured man from the bus fight. The “bad guys” are pursuing Mansell, he is following them. It’s all things you’ve seen before.
In a way, film is an exercise in machismo. Mansell, feeling like a weakling and possibly “responsible” for violence against his family, cannot find an alternative solution than to beat up (and kill) a group of people himself. When John Wick does it, it feels justified. When Mansell does it, it feels unnecessary and extreme. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it almost felt numb to release a movie that is filled from end to end and in which people are beaten and / or killed in horrific ways.
Based on the ending we’re not going to spoil here, it looks like there might even be some sequels if this goes well at the box office ravaged by COVID-19.
What’s the bottom line?
A John Wick minus the world structure, Nobody is a collection of high octane action and fight scenes, but very little else. Don’t look for act or substance, because there isn’t much here. This film is all about blood and courage, with very little heart.
“Nobody” will open in cinemas across Canada on March 26th where possible.