Serious question before watching NOBODY: do you think you could take Bob Odenkirk in a fist fight? For me, it’s hard to say, as the closest I’ve ever gotten to a fight is saying something mean about someone’s mother, and the idea of fighting a 50-something actor who specializes in playing comedic goofs or warming father figures could seem like ideal conditions for me to sneak out a victory. However, I’d still give the edge to Odenkirk based on the simple fact that his apparent easy-goingness might be masquerading some violent creature beneath (as one would assume for all actors). What NOBODY ends up displaying is that you could not, in fact, take Bob Odenkirk in a fight, much less the RZA and Christopher Lloyd.
Falling in line with other “middle aged men addressing their midlife crises through violence” films, NOBODY exists to deliver the image of Bob Odenkirk beating ass, and for the most part, the film succeeds in turning the father of many LITTLE WOMEN and former MR.SHOW into an unstoppable Russian murdering machine. More in line with the multitude of Liam Neeson tough guys than Keanu Reeves’ pushed to the edge JOHN WICK, Odenkirk plays Hutch, as a past his prime man who spends his time working at his construction office job, getting the cold shoulder from his wife (Connie Nielsen, workmanlike in her approach to the typical “wife of a badass” role), and always missing trash day. In more ways than one, the man is trapped in a life he never expected, much less wanted. It’s a fate destined for most men it seems but of course Hutch harbors a vicious side to him, which is unearthed when his family home is robbed and he hardly does a dent in the criminals. From there, writer Derek Kolstad and director Ilya Naishuller quickly get about to getting Hutch, who, *surprise surprise* turns out to be some kind of former badass (with the codename of “Nobody”) involved with a violent Russian mob and its patriarchal leader (Aleksey Serebryakov).
In quick succession, old men kick the asses of jackass youths, sing their hearts out to karaoke and generally dispel the idea that these seemingly pathetic Boomers are past their prime. There’s also hints at a larger Russian crime syndicate at play here (ala the deeper, increasingly convoluted underworld of JOHN WICK) but here, that idea mainly exists simply to give some bad guys for Odenkirk to knock off. There’s also an interesting similarity that emerges between protagonist and antagonist; two old guys violently and desperately still trying to prove that they are still unfuckwitable killing machines but even that is an idea that’s blown off by the promise of more Odenkirk ass-kicking. And kick their asses he does as Mr. Naishuller (who delivered the first person rowdiness in HARDCORE HENRY) once more crafts delightfully staged fights that show off Hutch’s skills in both firearms and hand to hand combat. Whether with his own hands or with variety of weapons he unleashes, Mr. Odenkirk proves to be a surprisingly capable action star, falling in-between the smooth assassin skills of Keanu Reeves and the brutal, old man strength of Liam Neeson, ultimately offering the unique visual deriving joy image of Bob Odenkirk stabbing and punching stereotypical goons to death. There’s no morality at play here — even though interestingly this thematic absence casts Odenkirk’s character as someone who might straight up be somewhat of a sociopath— and NOBODY benefits from not getting too cute with any moral themes of that nature even if that blank space ultimately leaves a lot of scenes that don’t involve fighting or shooting feeling like wheel spinning.
All that matters little though when it somehow results in a climactic showdown involving HOME ALONE-type booby trapping and the likes of Odenkirk, RZA and Christopher Lloyd blasting bad guys away. NOBODY doesn’t reinvent the wheel of cinema here (much less its own sub-genre) but it does more or less deliver the promise of seeing Bob Odenkirk kick literal ass and that’s an admirable accomplishment.