Bob Odenkirk’s career feels as if it has had several incarnations. He kicked things off as a comedian with somewhat of a cult following, which led to a breakout role on “Breaking Bad,” which in turn led to becoming a supporting actor for the likes of Steven Spielberg and Greta Gerwig.
Now, as he is about to enter his 60s the only logical step is to become a badass action star, right? If you’re planning on being the “old guy” action hero, you might as well surround yourself with creative talent that will bring success – and “Nobody’s” fusion of director, writer and star seem to be the perfect blend.
It’s not surprising that “Nobody” is a new action epic, considering the references on its resume. The film’s director, Ilya Naishuller, helmed the genre-bending first-person action film “Hardcore Henry,”and it’s writer, Derek Kolstad, wrote all three “John Wick” films, while “Wick” veteran David Leitch serves as producer. Add in Odenkirk’s unassuming family-man-with-a-dark-secret persona and you have yourself a brand new franchise that very well may have the legs of “John Wick” and “Taken.”
Part of the beauty of the film is in the set-up. Odenkirk’s Hutch is your typical out-of-touch husband and father. It’s clear he just clocks in and out of work, barely notices his kids, and his marriage bed is as cold as ice. But when crooks break into his house, a series of events is set into motion that will drag all of the many skeletons out of the closet – rather, they come flying out guns blazing.
In the beginning, you see a man stuck in a rut who truly hates where he is at in life. As a result, it’s a long-awaited release when things finally turn violent. The transformation from a boring husband to massacring bad guys is fun to watch and the film matches the metamorphosis with its frenetic energy. Naishuller knows how to direct action and keep things fresh. The raw and brutal fighting style is obviously reminiscent of Keanu Reeves in “John Wick,” but when it’s done so well, I doubt anyone is going to care if it feels a bit familiar.
The legendary Christopher Lloyd has quite a memorable role playing Hutch’s father, an old curmudgeon who knows his way around a gun and has a few secrets of his own. RZA and Connie Neilson show up, too, but this is Odenkirk’s movie and no one shines quite as bright – except maybe Lloyd.
Where “Nobody” often succeeds is in its ability to keep the action fresh and fun. Naishuller has assembled a fine team of stunt performers and choreographers to keep the body count high, all while looking fantastic at the same time. The sleek photography from Pawel Pogorzelski (“Hereditary,” “Midsommar”) brings a sharp and modern feel to the film, adding to the overall swagger.
The comparisons to “John Wick” is valid, but the film doesn’t survive on mindless action alone, as a true personal conflict arises to go along with the many physical conflicts. Hutch is torn between protecting his family and protecting his secrets, which allows the narrative to show surprising depth and muster enough heart and familial love to make the non-action sequences just as engaging for the audience. Some of Hutch’s story still remains redacted, leaving us to wonder if he really will roll up to the infamous Continental at some point and ask Mr. Wick himself for a few pointers.
If you are looking for great action with some crazy fights and brutal takedowns, “Nobody” is absolutely a must-watch. Packed with plenty of thrills and laughs and at a slim 92 minutes, you simply can’t go wrong.
“Nobody” is now playing in theaters.
Film critic and member of the North Carolina Film Critic Association.