Every action movie worth their salt has a catchphrase, and “Nobody,” in theatres only, has a pretty good one. “Don’t call 911,” Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) says to his wife (Connie Nielsen) before taking on an army of baddies. It’s his “I’ll be back,” a line that tells you everything you need to know about the character’s confidence in his special set of skills.
But, when we first meet him unassuming suburban dad Hutch leads a life of quiet desperation. Under appreciated at home, a joke at work, he makes Rodney Dangerfield look like a well-respected man about town by comparison.
He is, by his own admission, a nobody.
When burglars invade his home, his son (Gage Munroe) fights back, but Hutch freezes. Later, when one of the cops of the scene says, “You know, if this was my family…” Hutch’s humiliation hangs heavy in the unspoken words.
But there’s more to Hutch than meets the eye. Turns out he’s an everyman who can kill every man. A former clean-up guy for “one of those three letter organizations,” he left the game for a normal life, but “over-corrected” and became everybody’s doormat. “I always knew it was a facade,” he says of his suburban life, “but it lasted longer than I expected.”
The aftermath of the burglary awakens a long dormant piece of his personality and when he single-handedly takes on a group of Russian toughs on a bus—to the strains of Steve Lawrence crooning “I’ve Gotta Be Me”—he earns the attention of karaoke singing crime boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov).
What follows is a violent, funny mix of “John Wick” and “Home Alone.”
There isn’t much to “Nobody” except for Hutch’s transformation and his ever-escalating way of offing the hordes of gun toting goons sent to silence him. Director Ilya Naishuller keeps the narrative to a minimum, doling out the exposition in the form of action instead of words. It’s fun, fast-paced and owes a nod to Guy Ritchie’s patented tricky editing and may be the most unexpected good time at the movies since terrible people killed John Wick’s dog.
From bewildered to badass, Odenkirk is an unlikely action star. Slight and wiry, he’s a like a coiled snake, and when he strikes he takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’. Unlike most action stars he gets the crap knocked out of him, but like most action stars, he’s relentless. It’s about as far away from his work on the “Mr. Show” as you could get. It’s more like a bloodied and bruised 1970s one man army character—think Charles Bronson—than anything he has done before.
It’s a compelling character, but a movie like “Nobody” is nothing without the fight scenes. Rest assured the action sequences are, as Hutch’s dad David (Christopher Lloyd) says, “just a bit excessive, but glorious.”