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Nobody (2021)
Movie Reviews

Nobody (2021)

John Wick-lite, but a great action movie with stellar performances and well-choreographed fight scenes.

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Nobody is an action, thriller, John Wick imitation about a seemingly ordinary man who gets in trouble with the Russian mob after hospitalizing a bunch of Russian thugs who were harassing people on a bus. Despite being very similar to John Wick (both were written by the same guy, Derek Kolstad, after all), it’s different enough from the “dangerous ex-killer who looks like a normal person vs the Russian mob” premise to still be highly entertaining without being a total ripoff.

Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is a family man. He’s got the wife, the son, the daughter, the suburban house, a boring office job and a weekly routine that’s making him miserable. To his kids and the rest of the world he’s just a regular, middle-aged pushover. But after a home burglary (sound familiar?) results in his son losing respect for him and his daughter losing a bracelet, something inside him that has been repressed for years finally snaps.

When he goes out to retrieve his daughter’s bracelet he encounters a group of Russian thugs on a bus who are harassing the passengers. What a perfect scenario for Hutch to finally unleash his pent up frustration.

Unfortunately, the Russian thugs he enthusiastically puts in hospital work for Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov), a dangerous Russian mobster (this sounds familiar too). In fact, one of the thugs is related to Yulian (this also sounds familiar) which quickly puts bad guy crosshairs on Hutch’s family. While any normal person would be worried about being in this situation, Hutch is no ordinary person. Sure, he’s concerned about the safety of his family. But the truth is, he’s needed this for a long time. He welcomes the confrontation and the Russians are about to find out they’re not messing with just anybody.

For an actor better known for comedy and drama Bob Odenkirk does a surprisingly good job at being an over the hill action guy. His two years of training to get into shape for this role has certainly paid off. I have so much more respect for actors who put in the training and effort so they can do as many of the stunts and fight scenes as possible instead of purely relying on stunt guys. While the caliber of his action falls short when compared to Keanu Reeves in the John Wick franchise, he nonetheless pulls off the role quite well given he’s clearly a middle-aged man whose regular family life has made him a bit rusty.

But as his happiness returns with more and more violent encounters, he gets to shake off the rust until he is seriously kicking ass with the help of a couple of friends by the film’s climax.

What would this genre be without the Russian bad guy? Aleksey Serebryakov gives a seriously intense performance as Yulian Kuznetsov, the Russian mobster who becomes enraged when he learns his little brother and henchmen have been taken out by one guy – and an old guy at that. I don’t know what Serebryakov does in his spare time, but if it involves moonlighting as a hardened criminal I wouldn’t be surprised. He absolutely nails being a man you should not F$%& with and in many ways he overshadows the screen presence of Odenkirk. Definitely a worthy villain.

I first noticed the work of director Ilya Naishuller with his 2015 first-person action film Hardcore Henry. That movie seriously kicks butt and Naishuller has proved with Nobody that he can deliver the action goods again. Knowing the expectations of fans of this genre, Naishuller never aims for any serious amount of realism and delivers over-the-top action in spades. And it’s wonderful.

Sure there’s some character development present but the action is top-notch and just the right mix of being brutal and fun. And that’s the real difference between the characters of John Wick and Hutch Mansell. For Wick, the killing isn’t fun, but a means to an end. For Mansell, he’s having the time of his life as he deals with his midlife crisis by taking out a whole lot of bad guys.

Even though John Wick did it better, Nobody is still a fun action movie with enough of a difference to the “dangerous ex-killer who looks like a normal person vs the Russian mob” premise to stand on its own and potentially become its own franchise. Even the performances are great, with Odenkirk proving he can be an action guy as well as a comedian. With well choreographed fight scenes and a decent body count, Nobody is one for the action fanboys to watch on the big screen.

About the Author: Christian Stirling