"Give me the God-damned kitty cat bracelet" is a phrase few of us expected to come out of Bob Odenkirk's mouth at any point in the future — especially when it's uttered as the Mr. Show alum holds a pistol to the face of an assailant. Yet, here we are in the year 2021, and Odenkirk has become the action star you didn't know you needed. His performance in Nobody — an action thriller that's just as outlandish as the kitty cat line promises — has guaranteed that much. Don't get me wrong, Nobody is far from a wall-to-wall blockbuster action piece, but the way it uses its stuntwork and top-notch fight choreography is an effective one-two punch that helps create a thrilling feature that earns its rightful spot at the table alongside the movies it will earn comparisons to.
Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, who works a dead-end job at a manufacturer owned by his in-laws. On the other hand, his wife — played by the grand Connie Nielsen — seems to be a stand-out realtor in the area. Even then, the two worry about being able to afford even the slightest of vacations. It takes a while to get there, but audiences soon find out Hutch doesn't need to do paperwork or any of that lousy office work because he's a retired "auditor," a name for the person who plays clean-up for federal agencies. The person that acts in the shadows, handling that which cannot be handled on paper by the CIA, FBI, or any other groups with the marble-floored suites in Washington.
The one thing Nobody gets out of the way immediately is just how seemingly inconsequential our protagonist is to the world he lives in. It quickly drives him into the ground of the mundane, making him just another faceless being in the world of middle-class America — one that's stuck in an exhaustively boring routine day in and day out. Naturally, this particular arc is a place where Odenkirk flourishes; he's not even an All-American dad but, rather, the dad a family has turned on for not showcasing the same bravado as his next-door neighbors.
It's on this front that the movie really takes its time to get moving, opting to spend its fair share of time laying the necessary groundwork instead of jumping face-first into the world of car chases and shootouts. It's a plot designed to breathe light into these characters instead of its narrative, a move certainly more beneficial in the long run, even though the movie clocks in at a light 91 minutes from beginning to end.
It's set up almost too easy for the audience to sympathize with Odenkirk's portrayal of Hutch from the leap. But just as it almost loses you with the vibes of a present-day Leave It to Beaver, the proverbial crud hits the fan as we quickly find out Hutch isn't close to the quiet suburban dad we were led to believe.
When the movie manages to hit the ground running, it hits it hard with the bus sequence that you see in the trailer. From that moment on, it's essentially one non-stop thrill ride as Odenkirk, director Illya Naishuller, and crew do whatever they can to try setting the action apart from any other thriller that finds its way to theaters or streaming.
Though the movie does take a while to get going, it's far from a generic VOD entry — that much is very apparent. Here, there's a legitimate sense that a world's been built and, at the very least, Hutch receives enough of an origin story and development throughout the movie to make him stand out in a crowded field of shoot-em-up stars.
Once the fists are thrown and the guns start shooting, both the plot and cast of the feature explode — sometimes, quite literally, at that. This is very much the story of Hutch Mansell, and that's evident by just how little the supporting cast is involved with the feature. You have the Mansells — Becca (Connie Nielsen) and kids — that have a presence throughout the movie but even then, still aren't around too much.
Coincidentally enough, that's also when the others show up, including Christopher Lloyd's Harry Mansell — Hutch's father — and RZA, who plays the adopted brother of our protagonist. Naturally, the film's short run time affords a limited amount of exposition, so none of these characters get the screentime warranted to really flesh them out. The fight choreography is so good, however, each punch tells a story of its own, sucking you into the sequence as you start to disregard the rest of the movie.
Luckily for audiences, the movie is moving forward at a breakneck pace by the time the ensemble is introduced, so it's easy to forget about the necessary development when bullets and barb-wire contraptions are buzzing about at an increasingly brisk pace with each passing frame.
This movie will inevitably be compared to John Wick (but with Bob Odenkirk) and for good reason — both movies follow similar premises and even share a few story beats as well. That's far from a bad thing, mind you, as Nobody also manages to set up an interesting protagonist and a world ripe for further exploration. By the end of the movie, it's clear something like this could set up a larger franchise.
Nobody is light on a story in an attempt to craft a sympathetic protagonist that's relatable to a vast majority of the audience that will see this movie in theaters. By the time the plot comes around, you're already invested in the main character enough to forgive how wobbly the story told might be. Nobody aces the thing it set out to do — it tells a character-driven story that turns Odenkirk into a bonafide action superstar. The fact they gave Doc Brown a cache of sawed-off shotguns is just the cherry on top of an already-excellent shootout sundae.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Nobody hits theaters on March 26th.