Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Aleksey Serebryakov, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside, RZA, Colin Salmon
Written by: Derek Kolstad
Running Time: 92 mins
Release date: 9th June 2021
This film has probably the most accurate tagline since “In space, no one can hear you scream!” The line is “Never underestimate a nobody”. Going into this, I have hardly any expectations and knew very little about it apart from it was from the same time as John Wick and that it would be a little bit violent. I never expected to come out of it, an hour and a half later, having had the time of my life in a film that was probably the most enjoyable and entertaining in a very long time. It doesn’t have the most original of plots. It doesn’t have deep meaning and will cause huge conversations around the dinner table. It isn’t a piece of high art. However, it is a non-stop action-fest that has creative direction, impressive set pieces, and an unlikely lead who could become a huge star.
Hutch Mansell is a nobody. He lives a regular and boring life, going through the same routines each day and struggling to win over the attention of his wife and son. One night, during a break-in at their house, Hutch lets the thieves go, much to the disgust of everyone around him. When his daughter loses her Kitty Kat bracelet during the robbery, Hutch tries to retrieve it. Returning him from the thieves’ home, he boards a bus. This journey is about to open a box of surprises that shows that Hutch is more than just a nobody.
The plot of this polished and extremely violent thriller has been played out time and time again. An ordinary, boring man who hides a dark past that makes him a lethal weapon is not new to cinemas (see films like A History of Violence). Yet director Ilya Naishuller has delivered some unique moments to the set pieces. These are inventive and often artistic. For example, a simple car crashing into a traffic light is unlike any I’ve seen before. His use of the camera and some intelligent editing brings out the humour and a touch of flair lacking in most action movies. The script by Derek Kolstad, one of the writers of John Wick, shows several similarities, and this could exist in the same universe.
What makes this even more interesting is the journey it takes. Hutch is shown as the most ordinary person in the world. A funny opening sequence shows his everyday movement, with quick-firing editing depicting a man who goes to wakes up, goes to work, comes home, goes to bed (forgetting the bins on a Tuesday). His relationship with his wife is rocky, his son sees him as a loser, and his daughter is the only one who cares about him. When her bracelet disappears, he is determined to retrieve it, leading him to the home of the robbers. Yet what you don’t expect is the journey home on the bus when he comes a man possessed as he shatters the heads of five brutish men, who turn out to be workers for a Russian gang boss.
At this point, the film kicks into gear. Hutch is far more than an ordinary man. He describes himself as an auditor, a man who worked for the military who, if he came knocking at your door, you’d had done something terrible. Using an array of guns and household appliances, Hutch becomes a one-person army. Taking on the Russian mafia becomes his focus. Along for the ride comes his father, an elderly gentleman in a retirement home who has his secrets. All of this is played out to a first-class soundtrack that fits each scene brilliantly.
The cast all seem to be having the time of their lives. Aleksey Serebryakov, as the Russian boss, is a hoot. Chewing up every scene with a pantomime villain who loves to sing off-key at his club and yet goes full-psycho at the drop of a hat, he is hilarious. Christopher Lloyd (yes, that Christopher Lloyd) as Hutch’s dad brings a massive smile to your face as he wields a collection of shotguns and a laid-back approach to disposing of his enemies.
At the heart of the film is Bob Odenkirk. The star of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad has been playing sleazy character parts for years, but here he is finally allowed to let rip as the lead, and he doesn’t disappoint. With his charismatic screen presence, he ably moves from mild-mannered to bad-ass with ease, making us believe that this regular Joe is much more than meets the eye. It’s a performance that should finally put this terrific actor firmly on the map.
Nobody is a blast from start to finish. A clever, darkly comic slice of mindless violence that may not be to everyone’s tastes, but after the year we have had, it’s nice to see a film that knows precisely how ludicrous it is and just goes with it. We are not talking awards winner here, but it’s the most fun I have had in a cinema in years.
4 out of 5