“Everybody dies… some sooner than others.”
Justin’s rating: I’m calling it right now, the sequel will be called Anybody.
Justin’s review: Action films are still packed with all of the overly muscled brutes that have plagued the landscape since the 1980s (some with the same actors from the 1980s), but in the past decade or so, there’s been an interesting off-shoot of the genre that’s been more about featuring the average-looking Joe who turns out to be insanely talented in the same arts that Arnold and Sylvester used to monopolize.
So we’ve seen the rise of rather unlikely action stars such as Liam Neeson (Taken), Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity), Keanu Reeves (John Wick), and now — of all people — Bob Odenkirk. When I first heard of Nobody, I really thought that this was a sad attempt to jump on a bandwagon of butt-kickers, but the unassuming title and milquetoast main character are all a smokescreen covering up a flat-out terrific adrenaline ride.
Odenkirk is Hutch, an extremely mild-mannered middle-aged man stuck in a loop of an unsatisfying, colorless life. He’s so mild-mannered, in fact, that when a home invasion happens, he doesn’t even take a swing to protect his loved ones. This only serves to alienate him more from his distancing family — that is, until he discovers that the burglars took his little girl’s kitty cat bracelet. For whatever reason, this sets him off on a driven quest to get it back. And it’s that quest that seems to activate his long-dormant personality, which is rather more violent and skilled than what we’ve seen so far.
The question that lingers over this movie from the opening title card is, “Who is this man?” He’d like you to think that he’s a nobody, but nothing could be further from the truth. As Hutch gets entangled with a Russian crime family, the secret of his past and his brutal skillset comes to light. What we get is a very physical tug-o-war between two extreme natures that are both not quite so healthy for this man.
(As an aside, nothing made me grin as much as a brief scene when a hacker working for the Russian mob discovers who Hutch is and books it out of there with a “Don’t pay me, I’m out.” There’s nothing like tantalizing hints at a great reputation that make you really want to get to know a character more.)
Hutch isn’t a superhero or one of your average invincible movie super-assassins. He’s a surprisingly tough and adaptive fighter who takes more than a few punches, stabbings, and falls while proving that he can get up and keep going. In this, he’s far more John McClane from the very first Die Hard, and that’s an action hero that connects.
Packed with terrific performances (hey, Christopher Lloyd is still in the business!), a wonderful streak of dark humor, a wicked soundtrack, a slick style, and fantastic pacing, Nobody may well be one of the best action movies of 2021. About halfway through I started grinning like a loon and didn’t stop until it was all over.