Nobody is forged from the John Wick mould. Maybe a bit too closely, considering the screenwriter also penned the original Wick film. A couple of moments seem a bit too easily copied and pasted from that modern masterpiece with some fringe changes. However, just because a movie is clearly based off something that came before doesn’t mean it’s bad. Far from it! Nobody is a superlative action movie with crunchy bits of violence and a wicked sense of humour. Just because the general shape of the plot has been done before, doesn’t mean there isn’t some new, outrageous action contained herein.
Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) plods every day to his job and is stuck with a distant wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and his two kids. One night two crooks break into his house and he chooses not to engage in violence, leaving his family and associates looking at him as kind of a wimp, so the goes out looking for the robbers. It turns out that Hutch is a very efficient killing machine and, accidentally, he sets off the ire of a Russian mobster, Yulian (Alexey Serebryakov). Now gangsters are coming for Hutch and he has to keep his family and his nursing home bound father, David (Christopher Lloyd), safe by punching and shooting a lot of people.
Its kind of difficult to avoid the parallels Nobody has with the first John Wick movie as the advertising screams the production connection between the two films anyway. The unassuming guy who a random crime rubs the wrong way and causes a cavalcade of destruction is there. It turns out the unassuming guy has a bloody past and the mere mention of his name conjures up images of dread that makes hardened criminals cower. Wick has a stash of golden coins buried in his home while Hutch has a stash of silver. The loss Wick’s wife is represented by his dog who is cruelly taken away which sends him on a revenge spree. There isn’t anything with deep pathos here, Hutch’s family look down on him as a loser until he needs to engage in cathartic violence. In Wick, it is a series of unlucky dominoes that draws John back into the game, in Nobody its more random as the main antagonists happen to stumble upon the bus Hutch gets onto. Nobody earns originality points by having Hutch’s initial blast of revenge turn out to be misguided and he just wanders into the main bad guys afterwards. Still, the suburban setting in Nobody compared to the high rich elegance of John Wick’s world makes it different enough. Also, there isn’t a cavalcade of world-building lore in Nobody that sometimes suffocates the John Wick sequels.
Odenkirk does a fantastic job as Hutch. He has the appearance of an everyday chump which works very well when he outbursts in surprising violence. John Wick was embodied by Keanu Reeves so it wasn’t too much a surprise when he unleashed hell but here with Odenkirk it’s kind of shocking. Odenkirk is good at showing a depth of emotion underneath a calm exterior and turning on a dime into something menacing. He has a moment in here when he talks about his decision to leave behind his life of violence that is both moving and funny. The relationship with his wife seems dead and only by beating the hell out of people he’s able to rekindle his marriage. Nielsen as his wife just looks kind of sad most of the time but her and the kids are just there to be moved out of harm’s way when the bad guys come calling. Lloyd as Hutch’s dad is sitting around his old folks home and seemingly helpless but there’s a great twist when he ends up involved.
All of the action scenes are highly charged bits of chaos. The first bit of smashing is when Hutch beats up on some drunken goons on a bus is both hilarious and messy, at one point involving a fast-food straw emergency tracheostomy. The scene when the baddies descend upon Hutch’s home is nicely staged where he uses common household items to take the invaders out. And the final warehouse shootout is totally insane. The action scenes go from bone crunching realistic to downright cartoonish but it works as the spectacle gets bigger.
The fact that the movie starts off as a revenge quest which is then sidetracked by other baddies crashing out of nowhere is either an interesting plot swerve or just lazy writing. Serebryakov as the main baddie plows his way into the film, strutting on stage, doing a line of coke, singing his heart out, then beating a random guy to death. In a fantastic face to face confrontation as Hutch is wired to a live land mine so he can get his point across, Hutch tells Yulian that assaulting on a person’s home is something that is not allowed, however earlier in the film Hutch did that very thing to the people who broke into his house. Underneath the surface, that irony is making Hutch so mad.
Nobody is a thinly disguised riff on the John Wick format but it manages to succeed in its own right. The surprisingly realistic performance makes all the outlandish chaos hit harder. And when it goes completely crazy, it’s enjoyably bonkers.
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Aleksey Serebryakov and Connie Nielsen