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Nobody (A Movie Review)

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

NOBODY (2021)

Starring Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Alexey Serebryakov, Christopher Lloyd, RZA, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon, Billy MacLellan, Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath, Araya Mengesha, Aleksandr Pal, JP Manoux, Daniel Bernhardt, Humberly González, Edsson Morales, Adrian McLean, Stephanie Sy, Megan Best, Joanne Rodriguez, Sergey Shnurov and Ilya Naishuller.

Screenplay by Derek Kolstad.

Directed by Ilya Naishuller.

Distributed by Universal Pictures. 91 minutes. Rated R.

Back in 1965 the British band The Kinks had a big hit single called “A Well-Respected Man.” It was basically the story of a dull and normal London businessman who was a slave to conventionality and has his life scheduled to the moment. As the song explained, “He’s oh so good, and he’s oh so fine, and he’s oh so healthy in his body and his mind. He’s a well-respected man about town, doing the best things so conservatively.”

Yet, as the song goes on, cataloguing his regimented and seemingly dull life, hints start to arise that he is not quite as pure as he appears at first glance. In fact, you come to realize that he is much darker than you originally surmised. Actually, he’s a bit of a sociopath who has been trying desperately – and somewhat unsuccessfully – to hide and suppress his needs and his lusts and his vices.

The opening of the movie Nobody feels much like “A Well-Respected Man.” Bob Odenkirk plays Hutch, a pathetic middle-management guy who works at his wife’s father’s business. His life is a rut of dull routines – played out economically in a brief preface showing him doing the same things repeatedly over a matter of weeks. He is not respected by neighbors or friends (not that he has many) or even his family. And he does not seem too impressed with himself either.

And yet there is a hint of something darker in his past, something he is hiding or repressing from himself and the rest of the world.

That dark past comes back to light when his home is randomly broken into one night. The thieves don’t get much – and Hutch allows them to escape when at one point he could have turned the tables on them. He held back for fear of his family being hurt. However, the mocking he receives for being chicken and not taking out the robber when he had the chance starts him on a dangerous path back to his former life.

It turns out Hutch had some kind of shadowy background in military intelligence. (Whenever someone tries to track down his records, they find them almost completely redacted.) He refers to his former job as “an auditor” – as in the last person someone wants to see at their door. His attempt to retrieve his young daughter's beloved kitty bracelet, which was stolen in the robbery quickly escalates, eventually coming to the point where he is nearly single-handedly taking on the Russian mob.

This post-Better Call Saul version of Bob Odenkirk is also a bit of a “well-respected man” type of metamorphosis. I can remember when the dude was a comedian, co-headlining Mr. Show, writing for SNL and doing light comic gigs as asshole bosses on various sitcoms. Now, however, he makes a surprisingly able tough guy action figure.

While much of the violence in Nobody is way over the top, it is still one of the better action films to come out recently. It’s not particularly believable – not by a long shot – but the running time flies by, feeling like a long-lost 1970s vigilante movie along the lines of Death Wish, Dirty Harry or Billy Jack.

Once Hutch reopens the door on that part of his life, he becomes pretty much unstoppable, taking down dozens of befuddled looking criminals with his super-secret skills. At one point he even sets up his work factory to become like a very lethal version of the Rube Goldberg-type booby-trapped dwelling from Home Alone.

Unlike so many modern action films, though, Odenkirk’s Hutch is not indestructible. At different points in the film he is punched, kicked, stabbed, shot and blown up – and each time he is obviously seriously injured. He keeps going, but he is always in a sense of mortal danger, which makes the film significantly more suspenseful than the action films where the hero is essentially bulletproof.

Much of the violent mayhem shown is accompanied by old inspirational easy listening songs like “I’ve Gotta Be Me,” “The Impossible Dream,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “What a Wonderful World” – which is not the most original idea ever, but it still works like a charm.

I can’t honestly say that Nobody is a great film. However, I will unreservedly say it’s a terrifically fun film, and sometimes that’s all you need.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2021 All rights reserved. Posted: June 22, 2021.


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