By: John M Jerva
THE REVIEW: It’s been a year since I saw a decent action movie in the movie theaters so needless to say I, just like everyone else out there, have been starving for some godd old fashioned bloody and brutal fisticuffs and firepower on the big screen. After all, before I saw Universal Pictures’ Nobody which stars Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk, the only film I’ve seen at my local cineplex was The War with Grandpa with Robert De Niro. Don’t get me wrong, De Niro is a legend and it was a great family flick to see with my wife and girls but I’m an action fanatic at heart and it’s been long overdue.
Well, the wait is officially over and all I have to say is that Nobody is somebody and it is the first big action flick of the year and Odenkirk is the unlikeliest of action stars but with this film, he has definitely arrived as he, with his character of Hutch Mansell (love that name by the way) channels John Wick to near perfection and all the training he endured that has been well documented has paid off. After all, he was trained by the one and only Daniel Bernhardt (Bloodsport 2, John Wick) who also serves as one of the movie’s fight coordinators and with his name attached to the project, action fans know that they are good hands.
Odenkirk stars as Hutch who by sight is your average, ordinary hard working family man who spends day after day, taking it on the chin from life’s many struggles. At first glance, Mansell is nothing special and he hides in plain site as he goes about his mundane everyday existence. One faithful day, two criminals break into Hutch’s home and he fails to stand up and do what’s best for his family as to not incite more violence. This makes his wife and children look down at Hutch even more. As we come to find out, there is good reason why Hutch didn’t act out as he is more than meets the eye. When circumstances put him in the crosshairs of a ruthless nemesis (Aleksey Serebryakov), Hutch unleashes his dormant lethal skills that he’s been hiding all along as his dark and secretive past finally comes out in a hail of bullets and flying fists and feet.
It’s no secret that I’ve been waiting for this movie and with the delays, it’s been hard to wait but I finally got my opportunity to sit down in a wonderful, dark auditorium and watch the John Wick-esque action unfold. After all, the movie was written by Derek Kolstad who is responsible for penning the Keanu Reeves franchise so the comparisons are there but thankfully, this movie stands on its own merits of blood, sweat and tears as it takes the old tried and true plot of a seemingly normal man who is anything but and is in reality, a stone cold one man army killing machine. You’ve seen this before but here Odenkirk sells it because on the surface, you’ll have no problem seeing that he looks nothing like Stallone or Schwarzenegger. He looks like most of us and he sells the role spot on and proves that you don’t have to have a ripped body to be in an action movie.
It’s nothing short of phenominal as to how we see him transform from mildly mannered family man to an instrument of destruction all within the film’s breezy 92 minute running time. Odenkirk trained hard under the watchful eye of action legend Bernhardt and it pays off big time as he is solid in the film’s many dynamic action set pieces. I’ll admit, I was skeptical of his casting when it first came out but when I saw the initial trailer, I was sold instantly. Like I always say, I reserve judgement until I see footage and here it was as advertised.
Helmed by Ilya Naishuller, who is best known for directing the first person action flick Hardcore Henry, he delivers a fierce and ferociuos action yarn that would make Keanu proud. Naishuller knows how to shoot action and the shots that he stages do the action justice and while it’s not perfect, I was eating up everything I was seeing and then some. He has an eye for visuals and when it comes to this particular genre, he has definitely done his homework.
The action scenes, to which there are many, are worthy of a John Wick entry with Odenkirk doing his best to win action star of the year with his first effort. There is no shortage of shoot outs, hand to hand combat and the standout scene is a car chase that really outshines many that you’ve might seen before. Another awesome sequence features Odenkirk’s Mansell on a bus where he takes on a group of thugs who just happens to include Bernhardt himself as well as Kickboxer and Jiu Jitsu star Alain Moussi. They just have those cameos but it was fitting to see them take one for the team as they fall victim to underestimating Mansell. I had hig expectations for the action set pieces here and I’m very ecstatic to say that they surpassed them on a grand scale.
The rest of the cast which features Connie Nielsen from Wonder Woman and the great Christopher Lloyd all excel with the material they are given and even RZA, which I’m not a big fan of, deserves a nod. I will say that the main antagonist of Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov) is the weakest link as he is a bad guy we’ve seen many times before. Especially if you’ve seen a lot of action flicks. Nothing against his performance but it was just your serviceable villain for the movie to blow stuff up and obliterate sets.
The movie also balances the action with humor as Odenkirk has many situations that will make you chuckle but it just strengthens the dramatic aspects to it. Odenkirk really makes a case for doing more of these types of films and I for one will show up if he does.
All in all, in a year which saw theaters closed down for a vast majority of time, Nobody is a welcome addition to the genre and it was great to see old school kick ass action on a large screen once again. It’s funny because it wasn’t from a likely source but it won me over from the get go. Odenkirk excells and his training paid off. If you like the John Wick movies, as I do, then you should take to Nobody in a heartbeat with its non-stop action, humorous and touching moments and a lead that isn’t who you think he is. The story is simple which is great because it’s all about the practical stunts and action here and I kind of wish that this movie took place in the same universe of John wick because I would love to see Wick interact with Hutch. It might just make for one of the greatest assassin-buddy team ups of all time.