Among the list of modern action heroes; Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Charlize Theron, Liam Neeson, Dwayne Johnson, you wouldn’t expect to place Bob Odenkirk among them. The actor, known for his dynamic work on the cult favorite Mr. Show and his now iconic role as Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, has always showcased a knack for dry humor mixed with a singular charisma that’s made him a notable presence well before his time as a leading man. With the adrenaline-fueled badassery that is Nobody, Bob Odenkirk can now safely be placed among the list of modern cinema’s most compelling action stars.
In a role tailor-made for him, Bob Odenkirk stars as Hutch, an everyday family man living the most routine of lives. Hutch finds the days blurring together due to egregious monotony; he works with his arrogant brother-in-law, visits his father (Christopher Lloyd) in a retirement home, his relationship with his wife, Becca (Connie Nielsen) is strained, and life seems to be going through the motions. However, Hutch has a shadowy — particularly violent — past that’s far from the persona he currently inhabits. After a home invasion awakens the urge to revisit his old habits, Hutch finds himself in the path of the Russian mafia.
After the innovative, if exhaustive, first-person action film, Hardcore Henry, director Ilya Naishuller wisely expands his scope and maturity as a filmmaker. Along with brisk editing by Evan Schiff and William Yeh, Naishuller effectively, and comedically, captures the monotony of Hutch’s everyday life. The films gradual shift into genre territory feels natural and showcases Naishuller’s growing assurance as a filmmaker. Naishuller employs many notable artistic details that inspires a unique sense of originality; his needle drops are just excellent. Naishuller’s grasp of tone is another impressive feat, never falling too deep in either comedy or drama, but a nice middle ground.
On paper, this is a character Odenkirk can effortlessly inhabit, but it really is a revelation just how well the actor fits alongside the films impeccable action sequences. The wit and sardonic charm of Odenkirk is ever present, not to mention a more layered and detailed performance than you’d might expect, but his exuberant psychically is perfectly blended, making Hutch a highly memorable action hero.
The action sequences in Nobody are an absolute dream for action junkies. Taking a cue from the John Wick franchise — and sharing screenwriter Derek Kolstad — Naishuller frames the action with swift long-takes and fluid camerawork. The violence is hard-hitting, insane and completely brutal, making the stunts that much more impressive. There are numerous set pieces that inspire awe including a car chase set to Pat Benatar’s Heartbreaker, any third act moment involving Christopher Lloyd and a gnarly brawl on a bus that is among the best action sequences put to screen in the past decade.
Alexey Serebryakov makes for an intimidating villain with personality and a unique presence, but the character is fairly one-dimensional and winds up becoming a generic baddie. The plot also rides a bit too closely to John Wick, particularly in its attempts at world building, although I would certainly welcome more films with this character.
The past decade has seen a rise in Death Wish-esque revenge thrillers with some fairing better than others. The endlessly enjoyable and downright awesome Nobody stands near the very top of the list. Bob Odenkirk shines in another potentially iconic role as an unlikely action hero that is not only relatable, but a joy to watch.