★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Directed by IIya Naishuller | Released 9 June 2021 | Runtime: 1h 32min
A surprisingly violent and stylish action thriller
Walking into the cinema to see Nobody, I see its very own film poster catch my eye…“Never underestimate a Nobody” is the tagline, hoping to draw in viewers and sell itself as a hardcore action flick. Admittedly, I chuckled to myself and commented on how cliché it seemed. An hour and a half later, I left the cinema and couldn’t help but think that I totally underestimated the potential of the film, and its tagline.
Nobody is directed by IIya Naishuller who has done more music videos than films, most notably, The Weeknd’s wild and explicit False Alarm. He is also known for directing, producing, writing, acting, and composing the music for the 2015 Russian film Hardcore Henry. The writer of Nobody is Derek Kolstad, the creator of the John Wick franchise – knowing this, it’s a wonder I ever doubted this film at all, to be honest.
So what’s it about? Nobody follows a man who becomes the target of a vengeful drug lord, after helping a young woman being harassed by a group of men. The premise is nothing new to the big screen, but Nobody successfully delivers a well-paced violent vengeful flick with a strong dose of wit, and a few hilariously satirical surprises.
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad) leaves the beloved Saul Goodman behind, as he swaps his scams for some guns in the form of Hutch Mansell. Stepping onto the big screen with some serious fighting moves and the familiar likeability that Breaking Bad fans will eat up, Odenkirk shows us he can be the somebody that nobody wants to mess with.
In the film’s opening minutes, we’re introduced to a hilarious montage of Hutch’s suburban life – he misses taking out the trash, goes for a jog, clocks into his boring job and the cycle goes on, with each take making Hutch’s actions as drab and pathetic as the last. He’s a ticking time bomb and just waiting for an excuse to break out of his demeaning routine. Luckily for him, his final emasculation is at the hands of a few rookie robbers, and once they take his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet, it’s the excuse he needs to break free. After this, there’s no turning back and the actor takes us on a thrilling journey of revenge, living up to the Liam Neeson’s and John McClane’s of the world. Odenkirk is not afraid to get dirty and kick-ass, but what makes him special in this role is how he captures Hutch’s surprising violent abilities as an underdog who’s undermined by everyone – even his entire family. With a few secrets up his sleeve, Odenkirk revels in the action, taking down an army of men, setting up traps, but still pausing for a breather and to limp his way out of a situation – what’s so likeable about Odenkirk in this role is that he’s rusty, he’s not a hyper-real action-hero, and we get to have fun with the idea that it isn’t just up to the beefed-up action figures to wreak havoc and set the world to rights. Odenkirk’s satirical one-liners also play up to the giddiness of the film, making for some real laugh-out-loud moments.
Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future) and RZA (American Gangster) are the best of the film’s few co-stars. They add to the playfulness and underlying humour in the film, whilst simultaneously cranking up the action in the movie’s biggest climatic fight for survival. At one point, there’s nothing better than seeing Lloyd rack up the bodycount with a shotgun, whilst RZA delivers with his character’s hilarious reactions and begrudging support.
As for the main villain, Aleksey Serebryakov (Leviathan), does a good job of playing up to the half-camp and half-hearted mob boss, with a few surprising violent (and well executed) outbursts thrown in. Though he’s meant to be the most unforgiving of them all, his character is rather weakly developed and so not the most memorable.
When it comes to the action, Nobody delivers with style. Expect long, riveting sequences full of shotguns, grenades, and boobie traps, juxtaposed against the raw graphic violence of one man against a bus full of thugs. Mixing the fast-paced with the slow-mo, there’s the sound of broken bones, broken teeth, smashed windows and a whole lot of machine guns. Throw in a pretty awesome car chase, some carefully executed tricks with a fire extinguisher, and an epic final showdown – all to the backdrop of an electric soundtrack that hints to the lead character’s identity crisis, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a slick flick.
Nobody is a riveting and action-packed watch that takes the underdog and turns him into an unforgiving killing machine. With just enough satire, wit, and style, it’s one satisfying and enjoyable ride.
Nobody is available to watch in cinemas now.