Film review: ‘NOBODY’ by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

The film in which the seemingly average middle-aged guy suddenly reveals himself to be an indestructible fighting machine and former black ops agent has become a genre unto itself and one that tends to feature Liam Neeson.  The latest addition to the genre is Nobody, a film that promises a slightly different angle given that it stars an actor who normally couldn’t be further from the typical action hero, Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk.  He plays seemingly meek wage slave Hutch Mansell whose grindingly mundane existence is captured in a depressingly repetitive montage of a few weeks in his life. When his family becomes the victims of a home invasion, the dormant killing machine in Hutch is awakened.  In his quest for revenge, however, he clashes with the family of a maniacal Russian crime boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov).

With inventive editing reminiscent of Guy Richie’s better films, atmospheric cinematography, terrific use of music with a few choice cuts from Frank Sinatra and many others and a tongue in cheek tone, Nobody at first offers something noticeably better than the typical reactionary shoot em’ up fare.  It actually features a fight scene in which Hutch cops a bit of a beating.  It’s soon apparent, though, that he’s just shaking off the rust from years of domesticity and inevitably the film bows to cliché with increasingly long, predictable fights in which the bad guys can’t shoot straight, wander into obvious traps and dutifully wait in line to be bashed, stabbed or shot. The hope that this film might parody the typical video game-style action eventually evaporates and the second half becomes a procession of physics-defying gun battles that, while dynamic, are too predictable to evoke any tension.

Still, the film offers a few compensations, Bob Odenkirk is a likeable and charismatic screen presence and even when he’s viciously despatching yet another incompetent goon he’s not detestable the way Steven Segal’s characters are or for that matter Sylvester Stallone in the recent Rambo atrocity.  Also, Christopher Lloyd makes an appearance as Hutch’s ornery old pop and seeing him leap from his nursing home bed and go nuts with a shotgun is actually kinda fun.

Also, typically in these films, the so-called hero’s superhuman fighting skills emerge when he’s confronted by suspiciously swarthy looking fiends, thereby connecting to the disturbing right-wing notion of the white man under siege.  The villains here are just about all white, so that ugly sense of racial stereotyping isn’t present although it’s still indulging the notion of the middle-class American under siege.

Filmgoers who want movies that approach the topic of violence with a hint of realism will ultimately groan with despair at this film’s excesses but those who don’t require logic to play a role in their movies will find this quite satisfying beer and pizza entertainment.

Nick’s rating: ***

Genre: Action/ comedy.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Ilya Naishuller.

Release date: 1st Apr 2021.

Running time: 92 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast.

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