One Liner Review:
Like John Wick only with more humor and less amazing stunt work, this movie might feel familiar, but it is well-made and a lot of fun.
This is definitely a fun movie. It’s a guilty pleasure movie. The action is delved out at a pace that is reminiscent of John Wick. So is the story, for that matter, about a man who was once a top notch CIA assassin, and has since retired. Until something accidentally triggers a nerve and brings his killer instincts and skills back into the fold. Unlike Wick, this is not about a world of assassins, but in most other ways the movie is pretty similar. And that’s a good thing. Bob Odenkirk is a great actor and has real presence. Whereas Wick took the subject more seriously and featured better stunts, this movie incorporates humor more. It’s nowhere near as good as Wick, but it’s still an enjoyable time.
Nobody is a fun movie. Is it completely original in concept and execution? Of course not. In fact, this movie was made by the same writer as the John Wick movies (the man who was the single screenwriter who penned all three of those,) and boy does it show. Not only is it about an older gentleman who was once a CIA assassin, but has now given it all up for a family life, only to be brought back in, but the movie includes a family connection between the bad guys. This one even goes so far as to have our hero search for where the bad guy is stashing all of his money, find the location, and set it all on fire. The movie includes a home invasion where a group of armed villains show up at our heroes house to try and take him out. All things just like Wick. And this movie doesn’t try very hard to be different. But considering that the Wick movies are all pretty great, and that this movie isn’t exactly a cheap version, but instead does put effort in, and is well-made, the result might not be completely original, but it’s still pretty good.
Our protagonist here is Hutch, played by Better Call Saul’s Bob Odenkirk. He lives in the suburbs with a wife and two kids. He works for his wife’s father and his brother in law, at a nine to five job that he is less than interested in. Hutch’s life isn’t all that great, as we are clearly made to see in the opening scenes of him both at home and at work. We get rapid fire montages, if you can even call them that, where clips are cut together at rocket speed to let us hear the same sounds and see the same quick visuals over and over again, forming a pattern. This is Guy Ritchie stuff, like he used in Snatch, or what Darren Aronofsky used in Requiem For A Dream. The rapid fire montages are meant to show that Hutch’s life is empty and just feels like the same dull routines over and over again. It’s a fun way to do it, to show that a character’s life is boring, without actually boring the audience as well. We even see, as part of the pattern, that every day Hutch brings his garbage outside, and right when he gets to the curb sees that he is too late, as the garbage truck drives away.
At this point, we have the story of a man who is living a life with much to be desired. Even at home, he and his wife discuss how they haven’t been intimate with each other in some time, and we see multiple scenes of Hutch missing the garbage can when he tries throwing things out, and his wife calling him on it. This character, leading a clumsy and defeated, and depressing life, is somewhat comedic. Now that’s right up the alley for actor Bob Odenkirk. He’s a comedian, after all, who got a big break playing a lawyer on the dramatic series Breaking Bad. From there, he was able to turn that same character into a starring role on Better Call Saul. And suddenly the biggest things he’s been a part of aren’t comedies anymore, but dramatic Television series’. And maybe it’s because he’s a comedic actor and understands timing so well, that he’s able to bring such credibility to his dramatic parts. After all, one clear difference between John Wick movies and Nobody, is that Nobody actually goes for comedy from time to time. Very, very dark comedy.
The real story here begins one night when Hutch wakes up and walks around his house to find that there are armed robbers in there. Two of them. His family wakes up and his son even attacks one of the robbers, getting the criminal in a headlock. Hutch grabs a golf club and is behind the other robber, ready to get the drop on the her (we learn it’s a woman from her voice,) when something makes him stop. It could be her voice, but more likely it’s Hutch’s ability to look closely at the gun and see that it’s not loaded. Somehow Hutch figures out that these people are desperate, and in a tough situation, and he lets them go. This doesn’t exactly make his son, who Hutch tells to release his headlock, very happy.
Hutch felt like he did the right thing, even if it meant making his family, and in particular his son, look down on him. But then his daughter mentions a kitty cat bracelet that the robbers took. And technically it’s Hutch’s fault that they took it. You see, the bracelet was in a bowl on the kitchen counter, where the family kept extra cash, and Hutch told the criminals to take whatever was in the bowl and leave. So he unknowingly gave away the kitty cat bracelet. This leads Hutch to go and seek out the robbers who broke into his house (plus the whole robbery was his fault as well, considering he let a pizza box drop and it got wedged in the garage door, enabling the robbers to get in the house. Hutch finds these robbers, tries to get the bracelet back, but has no success. He also ends up seeing that the two people have a sick baby on a ventilator, showing us that Hutch was right.. these people were desperate, and were not mastermind criminals.
And all of this… the story about that first robbery and the kitty cat bracelet… it’s all a red herring. It’s all unrelated to the plot that is about to unfold other than to help establish why Hutch would be in a pretty miserable mood as he is riding the bus back home that night. It goes toward explaining why he would lash out at some punks who get on the bus and terrorize the passengers. Hutch has the capability to do all kinds of things to these men, but normally he would just exit the bus with the rest of the passengers in this type of situation. Today, however, things are not normal. Today, he is having a very very bad day. It’s kind of cool, the way the movie takes all this time to setup the situation that would lead to Hutch attacking the guys on the bus. Red herrings don’t appear in movies these days very often. Instead, everything generally tends to be related to the overall plot. But here, that whole long opening sequence is about establishing things about our character, and setup. And best of all, despite that time, the movie still clocks in at only one hour and thirty two minutes. That’s the perfect length for a movie like this that most definitely does not want to overstay its welcome. This one moves at the perfect pace.
So now we have the bus attack where four or five punks get on after having just gotten into a car crash, waving bottles around, and causing all sorts of havoc. Most passengers get off. Hutch and a teenage girl stay on. She doesn’t have a choice, as she is surrounded by the punks and trapped inside their circle of chaos. Hutch decides to get up and fight the guys, telling them first that he is about to kick their asses. The fight is okay. This is no John Wick in terms of choreography, which makes sense, since the directors of those movies were actually stuntmen themselves. But all of this leads to one of the goons being put into a coma (he would have been killed if Hutch didn’t stop him from choking on his own blood with a neat straw in the neck technique.) And now we meet our big bad. He’s a Russian crime boss who loves karaoke. The first time we meet him, he performs on the stage of a night club. Then he gets off the stage, meets with some other gangsters who threaten him, and takes the biggest one out. This guy is the brother of the punk who Hutch put in a coma. How he’s a brother makes no sense. The punk on the bus was way way younger. It should have been this guy’s son. But clearly the movie is changing it to a brother to not make things identical to John Wick – there it really was a son who the big bad boss was trying to protect.
That’s another basic difference right there, although it doesn’t really feel like one. John Wick was going after the killers. In this movie, the killers are coming after Hutch. The reason why it might be a technicality, but doesn’t really feel like a difference is because in both movies it kind of switches back and forth. You see, in John Wick it also felt like they were targeting him, since at one point the killers come to his house, since Wick wouldn’t sell them his car. And that home invasion gets repeated in Nobody (in fact, technically there are two home invasions in Nobody, the first one with the couple and then the one with all of the hired assassins.) So in Wick, it goes back and forth, but it also kind of goes back in forth in Nobody too, with the villains coming for him during the home invasion, but then him going after them twice… first when he takes on the bank where the Russian has all of his money, and then again when he shows up at the night club where the Russian performs.
The second half of this movie features a ton of violence, and that’s exactly what we want from this sort of thing. There’s the home invasion followed by the bank stick up and money burning followed by a car chase followed by an office warehouse action sequence that makes up the climax of the film. And most of it is filled with humor. So for example, during the bank robbery, we see bills of money floating in the air in slow motion as Hutch blasts his way through enemies and slow older classic American music plays, featuring crooners like Frank Sinatra, belting out the notes. This same type of music is used again and again during the action scenes in this movie. During the car chase scene, music is again used for comedy, and this time it’s a very different type of music. Pat Benetar’s Heartbreaker. it works perfectly and definitely gets the laughs.
The ending features some cameo appearances in the standoff and action sequence that definitely give the movie some extra punch. Right when you would really want it too. The ending is where you look for the movie to offer something new and different, just to give it a little something more. And then we have a new kind of actions sequence where Hutch leads the villains into a warehouse loaded with traps. These include a machine that crushes a grenade until it goes off, a room with barbed wire behind the door, and a stapler that ejects a guy out the window when a character slams down on it. The traps sequence is reminiscent of the end of SkyFall, with James Bond luring the bad guys to him old childhood home. It works nicely in both movies. Say what you want about the routine story to Nobody, but the action and execution here are both top notch and a lot of fun. This movie works because of its action, it’s comedy, and it’s wonderful execution. It’s not the smartest film out there, but it’s sure an enjoyable time.