Review: Nobody

Remember: If you become estranged from your family, just go out and start a fight with a bunch of people. They’ll respect you again.

A husband and father, estranged from his whole family, finds his patience run out after thieves break into his house. So begins a spiral of carnage as he finds out how deep his revenge takes him.

To get the obvious out of the way first, Nobody is very similar to 2014’s John Wick. Given the success of that franchise, it is very hard to not compare the two of them, and it really hurts Nobody.
Directed by Ilya Naishuller, and it is his second film after the rather inventive Hardcore Henry (a first-person perspective shooter) Nobody differs from Wick in that lead Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) plays Hutch, a family man; husband, father of two, and completely disconnected from his life. His life is monotonous and boring, his sex life doesn’t exist, with the bed even being partitioned. But he gets on with life, taking the hits and the criticism without complaint, yet diminishing further and further.
But when two thieves break into the house, and he maintains composure and allows them to escape, he is further ridiculed by those around him. He snaps when his daughter’s “kitty-cat bracelet” goes missing.

This initial setup is more intriguing than what it turns into, which is almost identical to John Wick‘s first outing. Bob Odenkirk’s great as a meek everyman, you can sympathise and empathize with him immediately; at a point in his life when nothing works and everything is a chore (feels a bit like pandemic lifestyle, to be honest). You wonder how it all went wrong for him, and there’s certainly echoes of an older film, Michael Douglas in Falling Down, a much more grisly Joel Schumacher film from 1993.

But then… it mostly comes to pieces. And it is fair to say there will be spoilers from here. A summary would be that if you have a spare 90 minutes, you can do worse, but personally John Wick was more compelling.

The main issue appears to be, besides too many parallels to Keanu Reeves’ movie, is the secondary characters. Hutch’s bracelet hunt end on a bus ride home, empty besides a young girl. A car crashes next to the bus, and five very rowdy, drunk, tattooed Russians wielding bottles, cheering that they should be let on.
Now… surely the bus driver has a responsibility to their passengers, and letting a bunch of drunks on when there was only a single young girl and another man on board, seems completely reckless?

Also our character losing the plot over their daughter’s missing bracelet? Immediately. Not even checking around the house. Immediately going out and threatening someone.

And our protagonist being rewarded by everyone who cared about him after disappearing suddenly, and returning bruised and bloody? Is this an American thing? Is this a bad example of an American thing? His wife literally forgives him and sleeps with him after he goes out and gets beaten up.
Wouldn’t the right reaction be, “Oh my god, are you okay? What are you doing going out looking for trouble??”

Of course, this is all before we learn Hutch isn’t an “nobody”, like John Wick he is actually an extremely skilled special military operative. But his wife didn’t know this.

What follows is some very good action, though. Extremely bloody and grounded action, and unassuming Bob Odenkirk delivers it very well. Also, it was great to see Christopher Lloyd in here,
You can feel the impacts, and moments of gun play are mixed up with creative close combat action. There’s never a dull shoot-out section, it is clear that the director of Hardcore Henry was behind the scenes here.

Overall, Nobody is a fun ride much like its 2014 predecessor, if you are prepared to look over some convenient developments and forgettable side characters. At 90 minutes it is refreshingly concise, and Odenkirk and Lloyd do great work.

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