Indie musician turned filmmaker Ilya Naishuller debuted as a director with Hardcore Henry in 2015, an inventive sci-fi film which riffed off of first-person videogames. His sophomore effort Nobody is more traditionally conceived in style, yet surprising in its casting, pitting seasoned comedy actor Bob Odenkirk at the centre of an action thriller. The preposterous plot centres around mild-mannered family man Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) who works at his father-in-law’s business. When his home is broken into in the middle of the night, a chain of events is set off which reignites his penchant for violence and results in a rivalry with Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), a dangerous mob boss.
With Russian villains, neon nightclubs, Derek Kolstad on writing duty, and David Leitch producing, it’s nigh on impossible not to compare this to a certain Keanu Reeves led franchise. In the opening act, however, the protagonist is merely crunching numbers at a hardware office, so for a while it’s less John Wick and more John at Wickes. A snappily edited opening sequence establishes the routine nature of Hutch’s existence, slowly building to the switch from a briefcase wanker into action hero mode. The turning point moment is very much worth the wait; a brilliantly choreographed scene within the tight confines of a bus which allows Naishuller to flex his impressive directorial muscles.
The unlikely anti-hero is far from a new notion to cinema and has been notably used in the likes of Blue Ruin, The Drop, Harry Brown, and more. Bob Odenkirk’s slightly grizzled Hutch Mansell is a terrific addition to this mould of central character, and he brings incredible timing and self-awareness to the performance. His naturally comedic presence works perfectly with the tone of the increasingly far-fetched story, and with a killer soundtrack to boot, it’s hard not to watch it unfold whilst grinning from ear to ear. In another casting masterstroke, Hutch’s worldly father is portrayed by the legendary Christopher Lloyd. The less said about his brief but memorable turn the better, only because he’s so good that it shouldn’t be spoiled in advance.
An excellent entry into the beat-em-up genre with smarts behind every brutal blow, Nobody announces its director Ilya Naishuller as a somebody.