Many people remember Bob Odenkirk from his time on the hit AMC show “Better Call Saul.” Me, personally, I never saw that show or “Breaking Bad” and always remembered him as that voice in “Incredibles 2” and not much else. The idea of him as a badass action star didn’t carry much shock value to it so I didn’t have high or many expectations for this new action vehicle for him. Granted, I didn’t think Liam Neeson was much of an action star and he’s become one of today’s leading action stars ever since he starred in “Taken.” “Nobody” does for Odenkirk what “Taken” did for Neeson and it does so in spectacular fashion. This is more than just another action flick, this is something that takes you by surprise and blows you away.
Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is an ordinary, everyday average guy who works a boring job, comes off as bland and dull to his family, and lives the same day over and over without complaining once. Things change when robbers break into his house. After failing to stop the robbery, he blows off steam beating on punks harassing a woman on a public bus. One of the punks is the younger brother of a crazed Russian mafia boss (Aleksey Serebryakov) who comes after Mansell for injuring his family. However, he learns the hard way that Mansell isn’t an ordinary guy. Mansell has a destructive set of lethal skills and the fighting awaken dark secrets and strengths Mansell hasn’t used in years; doing everything he can to protect his family.
There is something to be said about the fine art of simplicity. Not everything has to be excessively complicated, loaded with political stakes, or be a metaphor for some deep meaningful issue. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one and that perfectly sums up “Nobody”, it may be simple but it’s the best at what it does. The story is a dime a dozen: an old retired badass cop/warrior/FBI agent etc. gets dragged back into the ghoulish game when something threatens his peaceful life and innocent family. What works so well here is the fact Odenkirk truly is cemented as nobody. The narrative hammers in his mundane, daily routines and low opinions from his family perfectly; so much so that you join the characters in the film in their collective surprise and gasp when he busts out the skills and fights through horde after horde of thugs.
“Nobody” is a gritty, very human, and family-themed action film that grounds its character and its fight scenes in reality. Never going too bombastic but never allowing any standoff to feel like it’s too low-key either. Every piece, performance, and executed sequence plays out perfectly; I never once felt an ounce of disappointment from start to finish. Odenkirk probably delivers the best performance of his career here. He truly embodies the character and his fighting skills feel perfectly natural for someone like him so every scene feels that much more sincere and genuinely intense. There’s a subtle, subdued sense of authority and power in his voice that makes his return to form feel that more natural when the fighting really starts.
This isn’t a cheese-fest like say “Commando” or “True Lies,” this is a gritty, bloody knuckled bullet fest that relies on authenticity and gravitas to compliment the violent shootouts; no cheesy one-liners required. I especially loved the supporting cast like Christopher Lloyd, RZA, Connie Nielson, and Michael Ironside. They didn’t feel like stand-ins, they knew how to be just as memorable and Lloyd is in one of my favorite scenes in the whole movie towards the end. The only thing that could have benefitted from a little additional polish was Odenkirk’s family. We see just enough of them to understand his awkward relationship with them but not enough to feel like they were worth giving up his old career/lifestyle. They weren’t badly written or portrayed; they just needed a tad bit more exposure to remind us what Odenkirk is fighting for.
Overall, “Nobody” is a crack shot of a film that hits nearly every mark and level with little to no difficulty. Odenkirk was born for this role and he’s created a new action hero icon that could deliver more top-notch films if he decided to run with it. The story is simple but powerfully effective, the action sequences are unforgettable and the supporting cast just rounds up every last bit of excellence and smashes it all together in flawless fashion. This is one of the best films I’ve seen this year and a must-own for me. I recommend a rental at the very least because this is the surprise hit you don’t want to miss out on.