In 2021, movies certainly need a punch to pack in hits with audiences.
Superhero films have reigned as supreme for the past few quarters, but when you think of a middle-aged, father of two holding down a steady 9-5 job in the middle of the suburbs, you wouldn’t necessarily expect him to be worth watching in an action setting. Then walks in Bob Odenkirk. The ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘Better Call Saul’ actor rose to fame in his own right playing the attorney for chemist-turned-meth dealer Walter White on screen, (his off screen writing credits are incredibly impressive as well,) but now he can add another notch to his belt as an action star— and he’s actually a really good one.
‘Nobody’ sets the stage immediately in the beginning through a sequence of daily activities for Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) ranging from missing the garbage truck right at the last second and working out while his wife’s face (Becca Mansell played by Connie Nielson) stares back at him from a real estate ad. It’s not long before some action happens though. Late at night early on in the plot, two criminals break into the Mansell’s house, and Hutch, who seemingly has the drop on the presumed-deadly duo, lets them go. He even instructs his son who had just tackled one of the masked assailants to let him go, but once they flee, everyone from his son, neighbor, brother-in-law and a police officer with horrible bedside manner seem to want to kick a man when he’s down.
Then comes the kitty cat bracelet—Hutch’s youngest daughter’s bracelet ends up missing, and they assume the thieves ran away with the trinket. That ticks our protagonist/anti-hero off. It’s not that Hutch is out for blood over some plastic jewelry—think of it as the catalyst for a metamorphosis into a whole new character for someone who isn’t just having a bad few days, but a bad few years.
Odenkirk’s character then begins to reveal bit by bit who he was in a past life. He breaks into an apartment, gets frequent phone calls from a guy who is mysterious in his own Deep Throat kind of way, starts a fight on a bus against a group of Eastern European mobsters while outnumbered, and even has the time and energy the next night to make his family some lasagna….homemade and his wife’s favorite apparently. The dinner however can’t be enjoyed because of the crew of mobsters who are pissed about that bus brawl roll up to his home. After rushing his family to the basement, which is equipped as a panic room and instructing them to not call the cops, you realize, ‘Oh, this guy is bad.’ Throw in the fact that some seedy characters tremble at the sight of Odenkirk once they realize who he used to work for, and you realize, ‘Oh, no, he’s scary bad.’
Hutch is still a family man though. It’s nice to watch a character coming out for redemption, revenge or for blood in a way that’s unconventional. Odenkirk plays a bada** dude without the cape, the muscles or even the look of a tough guy. The fighting sequences themselves are raw and hard-hitting but fast— that’s par for the course since ‘Nobody’ was made by the same guys who produced ‘John Wick.’
Hutch has some help. His friend on the phone offers a lifeline, but also Hutch’s father, played by Christopher Lloyd, is really fun to watch onscreen living in a nursing home but hiding a shoebox in his closet filled with bullets and a gun, just in case.
What ensues after the climax of the film is a lot of car chases, explosions, gunshots and plenty of punches being thrown. But Odenkirk’s character stays the course, remaining almost calm in demeanor but in the same breath threatening to blow up a club (literally.) The plot leads to an all out brawl at Hutch’s work, which he had the time to booby trap so much it’s almost like Macauley Caulkin grew up into this middle-aged self-servicing vigilante.
The best part of this film is that the action—which is set in quite unbelievable situations—never feels forced. Odenkirk underwent training with 87Eleven stunt doyen Daniel Bernhardt, Taran Tactical and even a mixed-martial-arts gym to get his own fighting style. The result will likely leave audiences wanting more.
If anything, ‘Nobody’ is a really fun escape into how a book should never be judged by its cover, because everyone’s got their own kitty cat bracelet moment, just maybe not ‘John Wick’ —or now should I say Hutch Mansell style.
‘Nobody’ hits theaters March 26.