The against-cast Bob Odenkirk is great as Hutch “Nobody” Mansell, a new action hero archetype in the making.
Comedians starring in action films isn’t a new thing. From Owen Wilson in Behind Enemy Lines to Michael Cena being handy with a katana in Scott Pilgrim vs The World, even Marvel has built a bit of their empire by casting comedians as their heroes, with Paul Rudd and Kumail Nanjiani to name a few.
I mean an argument could be made that comedians were the first real action stars of cinema. Silent movie stars such as Buster Keaton trying to outrun a train in The General or Harold Lloyd hanging on for dear life in Safety Last! I guess both genres demand a level of physicality from it’s stars, not found in other genres.
So I’m pleased to say that we can now add Bob Odenkirk with his role in Nobody to this great cinematic lineage. Not only does he excel in the action sequences, but he’s created an iconic action hero up there with the likes of John Wick and Jason Bourne. Nobody might just be my new favorite action hero.
UAMC Reviews ‘Nobody’ (2021)
Bob Odenkirk stars as Hutch “Nobody” Mansell, a mild mannered, middle aged, family man coasting through his seemingly dull life. After a failed burglary attempt leaves him and the rest of his family shaken. Something awakens in Hutch that he thought was left buried. A chance encounter with some drunk Russian thugs on a bus. Finally tips Hutch back into his old ways.
Nobody is the kind of action premise that I love. The unassuming protagonist who everyone looks down upon is secretly a badass assassin. It’s totally wish fulfillment. Casting against type has always worked for action flicks. It brings added stakes needed. Now don’t get me wrong, I love The Arnies, The Slys, The JCDVs of the world. They’re the reason I fell in love with action movies in the first place. But there’s a little part of me that just buys into the action a little bit more when it’s someone you can Identify with. And Odenkirk really plays up the downtrodden angle of the character. An everyman brimming at the seams, just wanting an excuse to return back to his old ways.
I think that was the main appeal when seeing the trailers for Nobody, was that it felt fresh because we hadn’t seen Bob Odenkirk do anything like this before. I now know what it must have felt like when audiences first saw Bruce Willis in Die Hard for the first time back 1988. Odenkirk is surrounded by an amazing cast too. Connie Nielsen might play the typical wife character, we’ve seen a thousand times but she brings an emotional weight to the film.
Christopher Lloyd plays Hutch’s retired FBI Dad. Lets just say, he’s handy with a shotgun or should I say shotguns. Rza plays a mysterious friend to Hutch. Much will be made clear about him later on in the film. He is also handy with a sniper rifle. I need to talk about the main villain, Yulian. Who’d rather spend his nights doing blow, singing and dancing than taking care of Russian mob money. Russian’s may be typical action movie villain fodder but Aleksey Serebryakov plays him with such charisma that it comes off feeling fresh.
Which leads me to give a shout out to the scene where Nobody finally confronts Yulian at his nightclub. Not only is it one of the most badass scenes of the year but one of the most badass scenes ever. Not to spoil anything, but all I’m saying is, don’t bring guns to a claymore mine fight.
THAT BOB ODENKIRK CAN REALLY TAKE A PUNCH
We need to talk about the action in this film. You wouldn’t expect anything less from 87eleven, the markers of John Wick and Atomic Blonde. They have mastered the art of creating well crafted action sequences on budgets that would be the catering budget of most blockbusters. For a film that cost $16 million to make, it’s full of action sequences.
Credit must also be given to director Ilya Naishuller who keeps the action raw. Building on from the rough and readiness of the very underrated Hardcore Henry. Naishuller is all about broken bones, smashed out teeth and every punch leaves a mark. The action never tips into The Raid levels of nastiness. There’s an element of slapstick to every fight scene. Hutch takes punches as much as he dishes them out. The bus scene where our hero confronts a bunch of drunken Russian heavies can only be described as ouch! As much as Hutch is a bruiser. He’s also very tactical. Using whatever he can find to despenace his enemies from fire exguisters to bus handrails. He even gets a bit Home Alone’y during the end climax.
The shades of John Wick in Nobody don’t just end with 87eleven producing. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad also penned the script. He brings his signature world building to the film. There’s a bigger world to Nobody that’s only hinted about in the film. Kolstad brings that extra layer of comic book style mythology to the story. Not content with just having Hutch as the standard assassin for the intelligence agencies, he’s called an “Auditor”. His boss is someone called ‘The Barber’. The film is elevated with these hyper real touches.
BUT HOW ULTIMATE IS IT?
Nobody is a film they don’t make anymore. You know, that mid range budget action flick that used to be a staple in Hollywood. The kind we got in the 80’s and 90s. The ones where not everything had to be a $200 million, end of world, special effects bonanza. Sometimes the stakes were low, more personal. I kinda wish that 87eleven/87North Productions would just become the Blumhouse for action films already.
Nobody may have not set the world on fire at the box office back in April (it did ok numbers). But neither did John Wick back 2014 and look where we’re at now with a fourth installment in production. I might be a bit premature here but Nobody is destined to be an action classic years down the line.
It’s a fun action flick you can stick on and lose yourself for 90 mins. Odenkirk is great as Hutch “Nobody” Mansell, a new action hero in the making. I want to see more films with him as this character. I just hope the wait isn’t too long until Universal greenlights a sequel. If they do, they better call it, The Nobodies.
Article by Robert Hatton – a filmmaker from the UK who grew up on a healthy diet of action cinema. Everything from Jackie Chan to Schwarzenegger. His dream one day is to direct an action flick and to do the splits like JCVD… without being rushed into hospital.
You can follow Rob on Instagram here.