For reasons that pass understanding, Hollywood has long had an enduring fascination with the suburban schlub. You’ve seen this character in dozens of movies: He’s a mild-mannered, middle-class doofus, locked in a perpetual loop of bad coffee, lousy commutes, and prick bosses who must endure the same routine, albeit for more money and better parking spots. The script will then push this impotent ineffectual to his spiritual brink, resulting in macabre comedy (think William H. Macy in Fargo), propulsive thrills (the ugly rush of Russell Crowe’s recent Unhinged), or something in between.
Like those films, Nobody centers on a real Nowhere Man, but this time we get a novel twist: What if the whole lumpy, dumpy, dad-bod thing was an act? Even better, what if he were really a John Wick-style assassin, just waiting to kill somebody with a pencil? That’s just what ya get with Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk), a Billy-freaking-Badass quietly living in forgotten fatherhood, somewhere out there in vanilla suburbia.
As the story begins, Hutch is trapped in a soul-crushing grind. He staggers out of bed, just misses getting the trash to the curb, and troops off to a job where everybody could give a damn about him. Hutch’s wife (Connie Nielsen) and teenage son (Gage Monroe) have grown so calloused to his haggard apathy that they seem to not notice him, either. Only his sweet little daughter (Paisley Cadorath) seems to harbor genuine affection for him.
This boring snow globe gets shook the hell up when vandals invade Hutch’s sleeping household. He has an opportunity to whack one of the thieves with a 3-wood, but decides against it. Anybody who’s seen enough of these movies will assume that Hutch is a nobody, so doing nothing must be his default. That’s when the movie gets wacky on us: Hutch is really a weapon of mass destruction. Once he starts stompin’ on scuzzballs, it’s gonna be difficult to stop.
As with Wick, Hutch gets triggered into revenge when the bad guys take things too far. In this case, the invaders snag a charm bracelet belonging to Hutch’s little girl. Duly enraged, he stomps out of the house, both fists clenched and ready to pound out some justice. This crusade eventually runs him afoul of some vile Russian gangsters, led by Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov, who bears a startling resemblance to Hugh Hefner). They make it clear that ol’ Hutch may’ve bitten off more vigilante justice than he can chew.
At this point, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Nobody’s screenwriter, Derek Kolstad, also penned the Wick trilogy: Both feature protagonists who descend into a kooky underworld of killers and spies, where everybody seems to know each other. Hutch enlists his crusty father (Christopher Lloyd), CIA partner (RZA), and many others to assist in his mission. And, like every Wick entry, this film gets progressively goofier as it goes along. You’ll either be down for it or not.
That goes ditto for Nobody‘s cartoonish violence. Bad guys get plunked left and right. Meanwhile, the good guys grow increasingly indestructible. And despite the movie’s city-leveling destruction, the cops are nowhere to be found…except for maybe a few sirens in the distance. Is all this completely unbelievable? You can bet your biscuit batter it is. But if you picked this movie for its hyper-realism, you done messed up, dear readers.
Actually, if you’re like me–which means you’re probably pretty weird–you probably got piqued by Odenkirk’s presence in the trailers. His work in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul is as good as you’ll find on television, so it’s great when he pops up in just about anything. You might be even more shocked to see Odenkirk going Walker, Texas Ranger on a bunch of sass-mouthed street delinquents. Well, this is no mere stunt casting: Odenkirk is absolutely dynamic as the Everyman/Terminator. You’ll buy into his despair as a milquetoast, and the savagery with which he doles out ass-whoopins.
This is probably a good time to say it again: The gaudy goriness of Nobody ain’t for everybody. Lots of heads get blown off; bones are snapped like kindling. A movie like this could be labeled morally irresponsible, if it weren’t so unabashedly silly. After all, it’s hard to unpack the cultural obligation of a film that hinges on the theft of a kitty charm bracelet. As it is, Nobody barrels along with reckless abandon, and it invites you to check your brain and join it for the ride.
92 min. R. VoD.