As soon as I saw its poster, the film “Nobody” left me intrigued.
On its poster, Bob Odenkirk’s bruised face is surrounded by menacing fists à la Billy Ray Valentine’s face in the 1983 Eddie Murphy movie, “Trading Places”.
As Valentine’s face is ringed by cocked pistols belonging to several policemen, he smiles and then mischievously inquires: “Is there a problem, officers?”
So this movie’s poster instantly made me think it was a comedy.
More precisely, I thought it was a spoof on action movies since Odenkirk was known for his comedic chops as a writer on Saturday Night Live (where Murphy began his career).
However, as the opening scene reveals, this movie couldn’t bring “the funny” even if it were produced, directed and written by smiley faces.
It’s that serious, I’m afraid.
Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) is “a nobody” in the strictest sense of the expression.
Trapped on life’s treadmill, he goes through the motions of living the same day over and over again like he’s been cast in a remake of the movie “Groundhog Day”.
To him, life is a series of routines which ritualistically unfold when he misses the garbage truck by seconds, every week. And his marriage to Becca (Connie Nielsen) is seemingly seconds from disaster, every minute.
His kids Blake (Gage Munroe) and Abby (Paisley Cadorath) provide little relief from his mundane existence and neither does his job at a soul-crushing manufacturing company owned by his father-in-law Eddie (Michael Ironside) and run by his pain-in-the-neck brother-in-law Charlie (Billy MacLellan).
It’s like watching paint dry; until there’s a home invasion by two “armed” criminals who rob the Mansells of some the un-sweet nothings they own.
Well, used to own.
During the robbery, Hutch disappoints his son Blake by not clubbing one of the criminals with a golf club he has raised behind the unsuspecting robber’s back.
At this point, it seems the movie could still dissolve into a comedy of errors.
Then, after the criminals get away, Hutch realizes that they took his daughter Abby’s kitty-kat bracelet.
You don’t do that. Nah, Hutch ‘don’t play that’.
Almost like Dr. Bruce Banner turning into The Incredible Hulk, Hutch becomes John Wick; after Wick lost his puppy to a homicide of course.
Or was that puppy-cide?
Anyway, Hutch snaps and tracks down the robbers in order to retrieve Abby’s bracelet.
At this point, you discover that this Nobody is gonna be “a somebody”. Not someday, but right this minute.
Hutch’s father David (Christopher Lloyd) gives him a fake FBI identity card: which probably carries the image of John Wick, post-puppy, on it since thugs start shaking like Scooby Doo in his presence.
Then, on a bus, Hutch encounters a group of rowdies who start harassing a woman.
In protecting her, he tears them so many “new ones” that when their butt-prints windup in hospital, everyone thinks their behinds belong to newborn babies!
I’m joking, of course: these guys aren’t babies; they’re connected down to their hammer and sickle underwears.
So Hutch suddenly finds himself in a violent war with a Russian crime lord named Yulian (Aleksey Serebryakov).
Trust the Russian criminals to be the kind of hardcopy hoodlums who would gladly resurrect John Wick’s dead puppy, just to watch it die again!
Although Hutch proves to be as unflappable as Steven Seagal’s girly ponytail, the fight scenes leave him as bruised as a post-brawl Jackie Chan.
So if you expected any Denzel Washington-esque “Equalizer” fight choreography, manage your expectations towards imagining Bruce Willis in “Death Wish” instead.
Yulian, the psychopathic villain, is not convincing as a baddie. Although tough, he is not likely to make guest appearances in your nightmares or spook stories after the movie is done.
Maybe if he was called Julian, he could’ve been more effective as cold-hearted seductress who “Nobody” messes with.
He often comes across as too bad to be truly bad. So you get the feeling that the makers of this movie were going for shock value in his character’s portrayal.
“Nobody” is a quick-fire movie with so many bullets in its chamber that it seems to shoot way past 92-minute runtime, while you remain at the edge of your seat.
There are weaknesses though.
The hit-or-miss dialogue is more a function of plot than the product of slick scripting.
Sometimes the conversation between Hutch and family is so stilted it reduces his wife and kids to props for Hutch’s somewhat cardboard character.
However, Odenkirk does well in portraying Hutch as both a hapless everyman and violent killer as the latter reaches across the divide between the two different personalities to winnow who we thought Hutch was from what he ends up being.
By the time “Nobody” is over, you’ll find yourself lazily pressing rewind to admire the movie’s scene construction as its bold architecture grows on you with the words “we need a sequel”.