The comedian and Better Call Saul star makes a surprisingly convincing action hero in this entertaining, John Wick-like yarn
The unlikeliness of Bob Odenkirk, Action Star, is undone with the arrival of Nobody, the latest in a long line of “geriactioners” seeking to rebrand Hollywood's fiftysomethings as convincing badasses. The added question mark here hangs over Odenkirk’s reputation as a funny man – but comedy is a card he refuses to play throughout this entertainingly nasty, blood-soaked yarn from Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller and John Wick writer Derek Kolstad.
True, Kolstad hasn’t exactly stretched himself – in fact, he’s essentially delivered a copy and paste job. The premise is near identical to Wick's: another tale of a former assassin pulled back into the dangerous, cutthroat world he chose to leave behind. There’s even a cutesy catalyst – no dead dog (phew), but the stealing of a “kitty cat bracelet.”
The difference this time around is that, unlike John Wick, our hero is actually enjoying himself. Caught in the daily grind and considered loser-ish by his kids, it's a Death Wish-like showdown (breakdown?) on public transportation with a group of armed thugs that brings Hutch “Nobody” Mansell the cathartic release he so desperately craves. The incident should have been a one off. Instead it finds him targeted by a sociopathic Russian mobster (Aleksey Serebryakov).
And so, hundreds must be stabbed, shot, and blown up, the relentless parade of deaths excessive, but inventively choreographed. Then again, Nobody is nothing if not an excuse to stage a number of elaborate, bone-crunching fight sequences, the kind in which a person scrambles for whatever's lying about in order to pummel their opponent into submission In this regard, the film's a success, though all logic goes out the window – or is that through the window? – the moment RZA and Christopher Lloyd turn up with their respective sniper rifle and shotgun. Maybe that's the point.
Outside of the gonzo melee, it's cookie cutter, absolutely business as usual. Deafeningly obvious musical cues – played over an endless array of slow-motion scenes – seem chosen at random, while the script, a structural headache, gives too much time to an abandoned opening thread about a couple of thugs who break into our hero's house. In this world, of course, expert marksmanship is valued way higher than expert plotting.
The usually hilarious Odenkirk – whose face has the strange look of the computer generated – plays it all entirely straight, vanishing his comic chops in favour of a 98 minute-long expression of stoicism. He comes away, surprisingly, with the clout to take this into franchise territory. A sequel is hinted at, this time with space for two. Pending box office results, we can probably expect the announcement of Nobodies basically any day now.
Nobody is now showing in UK cinemas.Where to watch