From the makers of John Wick, in which Keanu Reeves murdered a bunch of people for killing his dog, comes Nobody, in which Bob Odenkirk murders a bunch of people for stealing his daughter’s cat bracelet. If I was David Cross’ goldfish I would be getting pretty nervous right about now.
If Breaking Bad subverted the emasculated-man-turned-badass story, Nobody plays it straight, the only hint of subterfuge being the casting of Odenkirk as Hutch. It combines the voice of the RZA, the politics of the NRA and opens with the most perfunctory “this guy is in a rut” montage of all time, literally repeating the same shots of Hutch going to work and missing the garbage truck on what the captions assure us are the days of the week.
Our main character thoroughly established, armed robbers break into his house and Hutch abstains from fighting for the last time in the film, begging the question of why such a violent man did not jump at this perfect opportunity. A cop (the only one we see all movie) tells Hutch he did the right thing by not attacking the burglars, and the film spends the next 80 minutes violently disagreeing.
Hutch immediately goes out and fights an unrelated gang on a bus for no reason other than he really loves violence, which proves handy when one of his victims turns out to be the brother of a Russian mob boss (Aleksei Serebryakov) who dispatches his thugs to Hutch’s home. “He’s a bad guy,” Hutch clarifies, having early stated, “I’m a good man,” just so everyone is on the same page.
This proves not to be the case (maybe it was just a Saul Goodman reference), and still Nobody has no interest in exploring its central character, despite this being the obvious advantage of replacing Keanu Reeves with a real actor. Where A History of Violence and The Equalizer had their protagonists’ reluctantly pulled back into killing as a last resort, Hutch’s situation is entirely of his own making (including putting his family at unnecessary risk), eliminating the stakes and motivations required of even the most straightforward action movies.
The violence is neither fun nor harrowing, merely mindless bloodshed committed by former servicemen who profess to miss killing people; presumably a minority opinion among veterans, unless they happen to be sociopaths. Residual goodwill towards Jimmy McGill will only get you so far when we are asked to root for such a person, and Odenkirk yelling, “Give me the goddamn kitty cat bracelet motherfucker!” is beneath his considerable comic talents.
As in John Wick, zero humour is derived from the presumably jokey premise, and that includes a running gag about a Russian man being black. Full of cheesy moments, self-conscious needle drops and a weird cast that unites Christopher Lloyd with RZA, Nobody‘s only selling point since the release of Black Widow is that it features actual Russians. Naturally it suggests a sequel but if there is a cinematic franchise worthy of Odenkirk’s abilities, as Chaka Khan might say, it ain’t Nobody.