Sometimes it feels like Hollywood executives are playing a game with audiences. They’re just throwing darts at a wall of headshots to determine which unlikely actor will be the next to star in their own action movie. (In this fantasy I’m entirely making up, someone snuck in ten copies of Liam Neeson’s headshot.) After years of collecting dust on the wall, it seems that Bob Odenkirk’s headshot has finally been hit. It’s a good thing too, because Nobody is a winner!
After failing to protect his family during a home invasion, Hutch (Odenkirk) feels like he let them down. He channels his anger by protecting a young woman on a bus from a gang of drunken men. His “protecting” comes in the form of sending several of them to the hospital. Unfortunately for him, one of those goons is the younger brother of Yulian Kuznetsov, a Russian crime lord. Having wronged his family, Hutch is now at the top of Yulian’s hit list.
Just a Regular Guy, A Nobody
In the pantheon of normal-guys-turned-action-stars, Odenkirk has to be one of the most normal. He is in shape but not intimidating, average height but not towering, old but has not yet hit retirement. He is the perfect actor to play a rough and tough character that genuinely surprises in their rough and toughness.
As he pulls out different pieces of the Swiss Army knife that is his mind and body, we are presented with clever ways he uses the space and objects around him. This distinction is important. Positioning him as someone who utilizes his surroundings, his “normal guy” appearance fades right before our eyes. He may look normal but he is anything but. If it was just Odenkirk kicking ass with his two fists, it’d be harder to believe. But then again, in a movie like this, how important is believability anyway?
Caricature of a Villain
As Yulian, Aleksey Serebryakov is menacing but hollow. His performance is over the top (and weirdly includes a musical number?) but is never campy enough to feel unique. Yulian is every generic action movie villain rolled up into one. Russian? Check. Randomly kills bystanders to prove his power? Check. Usually relegated to just being a figurehead of the organization going after our hero, thus rarely given any fun moments to shine? Check! It’s unfortunate because in a film that is so fun, it feels natural for the villain to chew the scenery and really be a character. Yulian is only a stand in for every other Russian bad guy.
Making up for the villain, though, is the action. The fight sequences are brutal. Like the John Wick franchise, every hit and every kick is clearly seen and felt. Hutch has his moments where he has to recover from being beaten before fighting back. It’s not like other action movies where the hero is completely invincible. Hutch has a strong set of skills but he is very much so a human who has to bounce back from time to time.
The Bottom Line
Nobody is a fun, action-packed movie and gives more than enough reason to return to the theaters after a year away. At a tight 92 minutes, the film flies by. After the traumatic experience that was 2020, we all need a little bit of escape this year. For my money, there are few better ways to escape than watching Bob Odenkirk do the opposite of what Bob Odenkirk usually does. Nobody is all good, man.