Nobody (2021)

Nobody (2021) Cover

Bob Odenkirk shines in this fun little knock-off of John Wick; but, by far, my favorite part of Nobody is easily Christopher Lloyd. It's been a couple of years since John Wick: Chapter 3, so I was ready for the kind of mindlessly empty thrill ride that these films usually give. Nobody delivers enough to satisfy that craving despite lower production values and cheese by making up the gap with talented performers.

Living out a mundane and repetitive life, Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) has embraced a performative existence where he is a standard family man in a passionless marriage. After a robbery at gunpoint, everyone around Hutch prods and needles his masculinity, each of them implying in a different way that they would have handled the robbery differently. Finally, pushed over the edge from believing that his violators have stolen his child's kitten bracelet, we see that Hutch is in fact a secret badass. His bloodlust boiling being unfulfilled after an unsatisfying conflict with the perpetrators drives Hutch to provoke a fight with the Russian mafia that pulls them both into a relentless death spiral à la the original John Wick.

The story is garbage, but it doesn't hold Nobody back from being an entertaining thrill-ride. The way the opening emphasizes standards for masculinity and the way communities pressure men to behave with performative and toxic masculinity is interesting. We have a scene where the police officer who responds to the crime both commends Hutch's handling of the event while still undercutting him for not responding more violently. And while we go from this extremely put-together man who is handling this violence correctly while everyone he meets needles him for not acting out during the conflict to just unending murderous carnage... Nobody feels like it fails to follow-up or really say anything about it. There is the implication that the real badass is the one who is able to keep his calm when he doesn't have to act out, but then we only ever know that Hutch is a badass because he starts murdering people without restraint anyway, which undercuts those themes.

That said, it really doesn't matter. I didn't watch John Wick for the story and it's clear that the story does not have to be Shakespeare to entertain for a few hours of absolutely mindless violence. Nobody is certainly able to do that with heart-pounding choreography and brutally explosive fights that border on eliciting the feelings of body horror as elbows bend the wrong way or tracheas are collapsed. The fight choreography is just sick in the best possible way.

While this would be enough to carry most any movie, the formula of John Wick is all about getting an actor that you don't see as an action star or seeing as having lived past their action star days, and building up all this fantastical destruction around them. Bob Odenkirk is outstanding for this purpose. He's proven that he has impeccable comedic instincts as well as downright legendary dramatic chops from his previous work and turning him into an over-the-top action hero is a joy to behold. What's almost more fun, though, is watching the use of Christopher Lloyd (as Hutch's father), who is so ungodly old as to be barely mobile, get inserted into these chaotic gunfights. It's not done well and the camera cutting back and forth to do its very best to insert this shambling old man pumping and firing a shotgun into building-destroying mayhem is downright hilarious. I enjoy it as a fan of Christopher Lloyd and I am always happy to see him in anything, but I can't promise this will work for you if you aren't as in love with this awesome actor as I am. It was certainly more entertaining than the way John Wick: Chapter 3 handled Halle Berry.

Christopher Lloyd's insertion into action scenes isn't the only place where the movie fails to really feel as polished as the other entries in this genre. In general, you get that kind of cheap feeling editing throughout the film. At its best it's funny, but at its worst, it's a little distracting. This isn't limited to action, either, as character interactions and other elements of the film feel like they're shoddily composed. Hutch's backstory very much feels like it was made up in an afternoon with no thought to it, for example.

Overall, I get a real craving for this kind of garbage every few years, and while the production values are a little lower and the fights less over-the-top I still very much enjoyed Nobody and would recommend it as a better than average way to pass the time.

Final Verdict:Entertaining and fun if not particularly memorable or well made.