Bob Odenkirk is one of the all-time great yellers. Go back and watch his marvelous comedy sketch series Mr. Show from 25 years ago if you don’t believe it. When Gene Hackman hollers, it can be terrifying. With Odenkirk, it’s unexpected and hilarious. The idea of casting him in a John Wick type of role (from the writer of the franchise no less) screams for more than what’s presented onscreen in the very brief runtime of Nobody. Post watch, I couldn’t escape the idea that a lot of cool stuff might happen following the events of what I’d just witnessed. What’s presented is effective in spurts and occasionally dull and repetitive in chunks.
Dull and repetitive aptly describes Hutch’s existence as the opening montage shows. He works a boring job. His marriage to Becca (Connie Nielsen) is devoid of any spark. Like clockwork, he forgets to take out the garbage. The middle class tedium is disrupted by a home burglary where Hutch catches the intruders redhanded but decides against using his golf clubs to take them down. From the police to his spouse to his kids, he’s seen as a weakling. However, when he discovers his little girl’s kitty cat bracelet was lifted, his true identity surfaces.
Hutch was once an “auditor” for the government. Not the numbers crunching kind. More of the bone crunching variety. He’s a former assassin that comes from a line of them including dad (Christopher Lloyd). RZA is also part of the clan (he’s heard more than seen because he’s in hiding). No longer content to hide his own particular set of skills after the bracelet heist, Hutch sets out to find the thieves and rough up anyone else who stands in the way.
One of the audited victims turns out to be the brother of a Russian mobster (Aleksei Serebryakov) who moonlights as an aspiring nightclub singer. With Hutch on his wanted list, the Wick-ish violence commences. If this all sounds like a tremendous amount of strange fun, it should. Doc Brown as an octogenarian renegade? Check. Our Breaking Bad standout breaking skulls? Check.
Sometimes it is. When Hutch first lets down his guard on a bus, it’s a violent delight. It never really tops that sequence that arrives early. Derek Kolstad (who wrote all three Wick flicks) is behind this (along with Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller). The screenplay hints at our lead’s backstory. It gives us reason to believe Odenkirk and Lloyd and RZA have been on some wild adventures. The world building that’s become such an integral part of Keanu Reeves and his headshots isn’t present in Nobody. This is far more contained and that applies to Odenkirk’s performance. He’s a terrific comedic presence and, as mentioned, a glorious wailer. Those skills aren’t at the forefront in this though he commendably looks comfortable offing Euro baddies. I just didn’t find the concept sizzling enough to sustain itself before it kinda burnt out.
**1/2 (out of four)