Yes, it’s true – the makers of JOHN WICK have turned Bob Odenkirk (DR. DOLITTLE 2) into an action star. NOBODY (now on VOD) comes from WICK screenwriter Derek Kolstad (ONE IN THE CHAMBER, THE PACKAGE) and is produced by WICK co-director David Leitch, and it has many obvious similarities to JOHN WICK. The premise is a variation on a retired super-killer in a “Yeah, I’m thinking I’m back!” situation. It mines the same entertaining territory of depraved Russian gangsters having the shock of their lives when they discover that somebody they assumed was just a random regular person is in fact a preposterously elite warrior who’s about to fuck up their whole existence. The dry, dark humor and gory, painful, expertly choreographed violence are certainly in the same ball park.

So if anybody has a bad thing to say about this movie that might not make me spit out my drink it would be “it was too much like JOHN WICK.” But I don’t agree that it’s a problem at all, because its strongest similarity is that it was another trailer that seemed to come somewhat out of the blue and made me say “Holy shit, where have you been all my life?,” and then when the actual movie came out it was simultaneously exactly as promised and so much more than anticipated. I don’t hesitate in saying that NOBODY is a new classic.

Odenkirk’s character Hutch Mansell is both The McClane and The Seagal – he’s always getting knocked down and crunched, constantly bleeding and aching and limping, but also we have absolutely no question that he will make every one of these motherfuckers regret they ever met him. But first, of course, he’s living a humble life as a suburban father of two, managing a small factory. We see the drudgery through a sequence of similar days with similar failures. His real estate agent wife Becca (Connie Nielsen, SOLDIER) seems to look at him each morning with some combination of love and pity. His young daughter Abby (Paisley Cadorath) still adores him, but his teenage son Blake (Gage Munroe, IMMORTALS) makes his disdain transparent.

Blake’s disgust is only increased when the Mansell house is robbed one night. The kid manages to get one of the thieves in a headlock, but rather than attack the other with the golf club he’s holding, Hutch surrenders and tells his son to let him go. After that he eats even more shit in his life as responding officers, asshole neighbors and in-law co-workers (including Michael Ironside, HELLO MARY LOU: PROM NIGHT II) look at him like he’s some kind of pussy.

If we hadn’t seen the trailer, and didn’t know for sure there was something else going on with Hutch, we’d know it when he opens his secret radio and talks to a distinctive voice that those-who-know will know as the director and star of THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS. That’s when we see that Hutch can rattle off every detail of the gun that was pointed at him, including that it was empty. He wasn’t being scared – he was being merciful.

Because NOBODY’s most novel innovation is, of course, training up a Saturday-Night-Live-writer-turned-alternative-sketch-comedy-god-turned-character-actor now in his late fifties to perform choreography and stunts on something like a Keanu level. I want to make sure we fully honor both Odenkirk’s commitment and the brilliance of this approach by considering how this story would normally be told. They’d get Jason Statham or Nicolas Cage or whoever and they’d put glasses and a wig on him, and he hunches over and acts shy at the beginning and then wow, what a transformation as his true self is revealed! Or they would cast more of an everyman and teach him a couple wristlocks and any more involved action is mostly implied by closeups and wiggling.

This is a great script, so it would probly still be a decent movie, but it wouldn’t be this movie, the first in history to say “Fuck it, let’s make Bob from Mr. Show with Bob and David into an 87Eleven guy!”

That training fell to BLOODSPORT II-IV star Daniel Bernhardt, who also plays one of the thugs in the movie and was co-fight coordinator along with Kirk A. Jenkins (Leitch’s upcoming BULLET TRAIN). Rather than the popular super hero workouts turning comedy stars into he-men, Bernhardt kept him the same size, but toughened him to perform and withstand complex choreography, fighting multiple attackers, using improvised weapons, bashing body part into and through things.

So Hutch is real good at all that, but he chose not to unleash it on the burglars, and he’s consigned to accepting everyone’s derision and assumptions of cowardice about it until one final straw pushes him over the edge (SPOILER: he realizes the robbers might have his daughter’s “kitty cat bracelet”). I love his ROLLING-THUNDER-I’ll-just-get-my-gear style decision to just turn and walk out of the house with no explanation. He proceeds to follow the clues he has to locate the thieves and (SPOILER) ends up understanding why they did it and feeling like an asshole for coming after them in the first place. I love the way this subverts the macho empowerment/karmic-retribution/scapegoating-the-urban-poor stuff you expect at this point in a vigilante movie, even the ones that will ultimately tell us that revenge is a mistake. Hutch’s reaction – screaming and boxing a brick wall until his fists are bloody – played in the trailer like his fury at being emasculated. It’s kind of the opposite!

Only on the sad trip home does Hutch receive what he interprets as a gift from God: the improbable, completely coincidental arrival of a carload of undeniable shitbags who exit a crashed joyride vehicle and enter the bus to terrorize the passengers. So we get to experience the no-one-could’ve-predicted-this-would-ever-exist miracle of a brutal, body-mutilating brawl between the dad from LITTLE WOMEN and stuntmen including KICKBOXER: RETALIATION/JIU JITSU star Alain Moussi and the aforementioned Bernhardt. The stunned reactions of Hutch’s victims and bystanders, and his polite interactions with them, are almost as good as the fight itself. And Hutch gets to get his groove back, reliving his wild days as something he calls “an auditor.”

(I would like to note that as a long time user of public transit it’s really cool to see so many pieces of the bus used as improvised weapons.)

I really admire the construction of this: The repeated days to establish what Hutch’s life is like, the interruption of the robbery and subsequent humiliation, the vigilante mission gone wrong followed by the punchline of a more deserving group of targets falling neatly into his lap. (Hutch’s not-quite-suppressed smiles as he doesn’t seek violence but sees it coming to him anyway gets huge laughs throughout.)

He goes home badly injured and very fulfilled. I love that I could enjoy that perfect little short story there and then honestly have no clue what the rest of the movie was gonna be.

Then we get a huge title that says YULIAN. It turns out to be the name of a particularly colorful and vicious Russian gangster played by Aleksey Serebryakov, who alternately reminded me of Graham Norton and Dwight from SIN CITY. His brother was one of the thugs on the bus (now in the hospital) so he sends his guys after Hutch, and Hutch goes back at them. Hutch juggles the elation of rejuvenating his life’s passion with the responsibility to protect his family, and the movie deftly balances this humor with extremely potent grappling, stabbing, head-blowing-off type mayhem, some great vehicle battle, and nice treats for all us boobytrap fans. Although the baroque spectacle of CHAPTER 3 is currently my favorite mode of JOHN WICK, I love this chance to go back to the original WICK’s level of tightness and intimacy.

And I do believe the action and technical craftsmanship is on par. The director this time is Ilya Naishuller, the Russian musician who directed videos for his own band and then did HARDCORE HENRY (2015). That was a clever and very technically impressive action movie that I just couldn’t stay involved in because of its gimmick of being shot entirely in the perspective of the main character. It turns out cool action scenes aren’t as cool if you never see the hero’s poses or expressions. I’m very glad he was able to put those talents to use here.

IMDb lists two editors – Evan Schiff did JOHN WICKs 2 and 3, EVERLY and BIRDS OF PREY; William Yeh did EQUILIBRIUM, ULTRAVIOLET and PUNISHER: WAR ZONE. The director of photography is Pawel Pogorzelski (HEREDITARY, MIDSOMMAR).

Again like JOHN WICK, NOBODY’s action is so great, and its greatness is so much more than its action. Thematically it’s very different – it’s not about grief. And I will admit that violence as a metaphor for being true to one’s self is not the newest or healthiest subject for a story. But it works so well here. Hutch is unhappy with his 9-5 routine, but he revives what he once loved and was great at, it makes him happier, reconnects him with his wife and extended family. It does all that with just the right touch. Like, we get to see the “holy shit” look on the son’s face when his dad shows his true self, but we don’t have to see the kid being delighted about it or high fiving or some shit. And I like touches like the things in his basement that seem to represent hanging on to his youthful passions – his record collection and his pinball machine – that turn out to be an actual means to ditch this buttoned down life and return to his roots.

Odenkirk’s performance is similarly layered and detailed. Another thing that’s easy to forget is that yeah, back in the day we wouldn’t have guessed that the guy who wrote the Chris Farley “live in a van down by the river” sketches would get to stab a hundred guys in a movie, but also we never would’ve guess he’d be able to give the acting part of this performance. The expression he gives near the end, smoking a cigarette in an interrogation room, burns as hot as the explosives he was setting off earlier.

I’ve already spoiled too much so I’ll refrain from going into some other elements I loved. I’m sure we’ll discuss them in the comments. But at the risk of further raising expectations, it is my duty to acknowledge NOBODY’s achievement in having not one but two all-timer “Just How Badass Is He?” moments. They’re not the traditional list of skills, and require few words, but they involve people’s reactions when they put together what Hutch’s background is. I think you’ll know them when you see them. If you’re like me you’ll be laughing and applauding, and if it’s at home you may rewind one or more of them to watch again.

NOBODY is a perfect little one-and-done self-contained story of action and laughs. It doesn’t need sequels, even though I want them. I’ll give them the opportunity to back out and I’ll sit here waiting innocently for their decision.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 19th, 2021 at 12:44 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

53 Responses to “Nobody”

  1. Yeah, I really loved this one. It reminded me of an actually-good version of RED, especially by the end when he gets his backup for the final shootout.

    The movie’s secret sauce is, of course Odenkirk. His characters, especially on MR SHOW and BREAKING BAD/BETTER CALL SAUL have always thrived on being a combination of two things- 1. an appearance of button-down straightness and 2. absolute unhinged fury. The brilliance of this movie is just taking those two elements of his comedic persona and having a fight scene instead of a punchline.

    I also liked his “How Badass Is He” moments, particularly the bit where we get a look at his file. Very funny and very effective, and I actually thought to myself at the time “oh what a great HBIH”. Another thing I liked is how it was sort of unclear just how much of his history his wife knew about. She didn’t seem too surprised to be patching up his secret nighttime knife wounds, but definitely was a little thrown by the houseful of bodies that turn up by the end. I like the ambiguity.

    I might honestly have enjoyed this one more than the original JOHN WICK. It absolutely felt like it could have just been another story in that world. I love Keanu but we all knew he was an action great, so it wasn’t a surprise to see him out kicking ass. To have Bob Odenkirk do it though, it feels like something special.

    Also [spoilers]

    there was a lot of pretty great action in this (loved how fucked up *everyone* got in the bus fight), but RZA’s over-the-shoulder headshot followed by the single-bullet triple kill in the shop was just perfecto.

  2. Loved it. I loved the film’s use of music. It really brought the fun. Remember the last time you have seen Christopher Lloyd as happy as when he was shotgunning thugs? I love how he keeps telling dying henchmen his backstory like he needs to get it out.

    It’s incredible they did make it for only $15 million (if it was one man to do it it was Ilya Naishuller as Hardcore Henry had even less money) and 34 shooting days. I heard the last action scene was shot in a day (but that seems to be too incredible, the writer, Derek Kolstad might have meant the mid-point house action scene).

  3. I adored the ‘JHBAIH’ scene at the tattoo parlour, easily my favourite part of the film. I avoided the trailer so this was where I sat up and said okay film you’ve got my attention.

    Overall I enjoyed the film very much, Bob Odenkirk (who I know mostly from the Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul universe) was superb, I totally bought into his performance. I don’t know that I was too bothered about anyone else in the film though. Certainly lacks the fun supporting characters from a John Wick film but I guess this one is bit more rooted in the real world. I will say I did find the final shootout a bit disappointing, it just felt a bit…rushed? It definitely didn’t hold my attention as tightly compared to what happened previously.

  4. Kurgan – I loved that the 3-in-one was so casual I had to ask my wife “Did he just…?” but then it comes up as a joke in the end credits. Also the shot of the gun flying through the air was very effective gimmickry.

    Ghost – the Lloyd stuff was so great because in a normal movie the dad would, if not get hurt or killed, at least get kidnapped. But this is a different kind of movie so when he got that heads up from Hutch I kinda thought that would be what would happen and was delighted when it came through. A friend of mine texted me right after seeing it that he needs a Christopher Lloyd and RZA road trip DTV spinoff.

  5. I’m not reading this review because I don’t know when I’m gonna be able to watch the movie, but I’ve been onboard with this concept since it was announced. I’m onboard because this movie is the purest expression yet of my firm belief that every true action fan should support any actor or actress willing to go all the fuck out to make a JOHN WICK and/or DEATH WISH type action/revenge flick. Because as laughable as the idea might sound on paper, you never know who might just be great at it. People scoffed at Bruce doing action. Keanu. They not only proved the doubters wrong, they forged new paths for future action stars to follow. They became new heroic archetypes for all of us to aspire to. Movies like this prove there’s an action hero in all of us and I am 100% here for it.

  6. Happy to hear this one works! Mr Show was a big part of my early 20s and looking back on it now, so many of its inspired moments of performance were Odenkirk’s. The writing was frequently hilarious too, but it was as great of a show as it was because of the performances, and Odenkirk’s commitment was the anchor to much hilarity. Nearly everything he did, from the billiards infomercial to John Baptiste Philouza to, like, the milk machine in The Joke: The Musical, he inhabits with commitment that’s somehow so casual it immediately feels bone-deep in the way you just sort of buy it, and whatever else happens to go along with it, or around it. And that hasn’t changed! I don’t watch everything he’s in but I tend to wish his projects well. As far as Nobody goes, I doubt I’ll shell out for a new release on VOD anytime soon, but this way I’ll be excited to see it someday and not indifferent… and how many new movies can I say that about?

  7. The bus fight here is an all-timer. So wonderfully brutal and creative and well-choreographed.

  8. Glad to see so many people enjoyed this as much as I did.

    My favourite moment in the film was his makeshift tracheotomy on the bus. Immediately establishes Hutch as a total badass, but not a guy who gets off on killing. It’s a big part of the reason the violence-as-self-actualisation metaphor works better for me here than in, say, a DEATH WISH movie.

    This is a minor nitpick in an otherwise brilliant movie, but seeing Hutch’s dad blowing away guys with a shotgun left and right took it a little too far into Looney Tunes territory for me. God bless Christopher Lloyd, but he looked like he could barely carry that thing.

  9. Until John Wicks 4 & 5 come along, this will do very nicely. Watched this with a goofy grin pasted on my face for 90 mins. NOBODY is not only a gleefully entertaining action movie, but like JW, it captures the joy of watching action movies during a period when they were free of post-modern snark, irony, agenda-peddling and overt political statements. I’m waiting for the “think” pieces to rip this as yet another White Male Empowerment Fantasy. Well, it kinda is and I couldn’t give a rat’s ass. Not when every 87eleven precision-choreographed piece of mayhem does a delightful pirouette on your eyeballs with the way it’s shot and edited with such clarity it goddamn takes your breath away.

    NOBODY is also frequently, very very funny. Odenkirk has done the work and really sells the character. And Christopher Lloyd is never not entertaining. But Damn! Took me awhile to realize Hutch’s father-in-law is Michael Freaking Ironside!!!!

    All these pluses help me overlook the few minuses, like the Laaaaaaaame Ass Baddie. And also Hutch’s wife’s curious reserve. Why did things cool off between them? Did she always know he was a killer and is worried of a relapse hence the “shield” of pillows between them? Or are we supposed to believe a wife starts to find her husband less attractive because he’s perfectly decent, kind, attentive and loyal but not exactly a hotbed of excitement, unpredictability and smoldering masculine intensity?

  10. KayKay, the Rambo movie that you are this comments section’s #1 promoter of is one of the only action movies of recent vintage I can think of that has agenda-peddling and overt political messages in it. I assume that means you only count lefty stuff that you disagree with as politics, so let me know which one’s you’re talking about. I love shit like that.

  11. My one kinda sorta criticism with this is that it seemed like they were setting up the wife to be another badass, but then at the end it turns out that (for seemingly no particular reason) his dad and foster brother are also badasses instead. Still fun, but it feels a bit more random. Then again, I suppose a movie where Connie Nielson can also clear a room would be totally different plot-wise, so that’s probably too big an ask for a perfectly enjoyable action movie.

  12. Vern, yup you nailed it. I’m not so much attracted to RAMBO’s Right Wing Politics as I’m heartily and violently sick of being assaulted at every turn by Hollywood’s shallow interpretation of Leftist Ideologies. So, if someone, like me for example, believes DIVERSITY should be all encompassing, meaning along with race, gender and sexual orientation, we also need some diversity in thought and political beliefs in our films (assuming we can’t completely be rid of politics in the narrative), then rest assured I’m fucked. Let’s look at the scorecard. Leaning Right is ONE aging action franchise anchored by an even more Aging Action Star which is likely to yield at best, one more entry. Versus….99.9% of anything coming down the Mainstream Pipeline that only leans the Other Way.

    Now, let me know if you believe GHOSTBUSTERS (Reboot), CHARLIE’S ANGELS (reboot), TERMINATOR DARK FATE, the SW SEQUEL TRILOGY, STAR TREK DISCOVERY and PICARD, Seasons 2 & 3 of WESTWORLD, the BATWOMAN TV Show right up to WANDAVISION and FALCON and THE WINTER SOLDIER has ZERO trace elements of a Political Agenda in it’s script. Or that most of the above don’t position it’s (White) Male characters as largely ineffectual, stupid, weak-willed, violent, arrogant and abusive.

    I really love shit like that.

  13. You forgot MAD MAX: FURY ROAD.

  14. Extra extra! Existence of women in film discovered! Experts suspect said ovarian secret agents and their self-hating dick-having accomplices may be injecting their own personal thoughts into art without some random fanboy’s permission! “This is bad for some reason!” say scientists, proving their hypothesis that male opinions are incapable of being driven by agenda! Nefarious conspiracy to eliminate the male testicle suspected! Will YOUR favorite completely apolitical franchise that nobody is fucking forcing you to watch you fucking crybaby be next?

  15. Indeed, I’d say that MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, with its protagonist brought into a collective action and the possibility of real systemic change, is the real deal. More, please Dr Miller!

  16. KayKay you seem to be under the old white man delusion that simply putting women in movies means there’s a political agenda. That’s so fucking dumb. Jesus Christ the Hong Kongers were doing that shit 50 years ago in their kung fu movies, they put women in all kinds of ass kicking roles.

  17. I liked this movie a lot…think they should have left Lloyd with his one scene of killing the two hitmen, and either left him out of the climax or just had him on a perch sniping dudes, cause with his slow walk and barely being able to hold a gun I did NOT but that shit. RZA did well though. Loved all of the action but the ending was clearly rushed…I think they should have made it smaller scale, would have been more effective. 34 shooting days…pretty crazy for a movie like that.

  18. This was a delight from start to finish, the perfect first post-vaccination trip back to the movies. Everyone involved was clearly having a good time, and every aspect was executed with wit and verve. God bless these 87Eleven guys.

    I’ve heard that the movie was inspired by a couple of actual home invasions at Bob Odenkirk’s home, and his personal feelings about how it went down and whether he should have done something different. The article I read didn’t say what actually happened, but thank God the invaders had the good sense not to hurt National Treasure Bob Odenkirk.

    Also, Daniel Bernhardt should get his own movie.

  19. Kaplan – Yeah, it’s pretty ambiguous what her part in his past is, so at first I took “just like old times” as meaning she was part of the same organization or something. But by the end it seems like maybe she was just used to having to patch him up when he came home. As far as his dad and brother, I assumed RZA was also an “auditor,” while Lloyd’s shotgun skills were supposed to be explained by him being an FBI agent. But also he just seems to be pretty crazy and full of bloodlust.

  20. Muh….except I’m Brown. A South East Asian. Way to extrapolate

    There’s a reason none of my examples above contain any HK Cinema. Which at the most dabbled in good old fashioned sexism and racism. Making it no less repellant but at least they don’t snow job you with course correction for perceived injustices and then lob their own biases in your fucking face

  21. Why thank you Maj! I have discovered the existence of women in films. I count Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Leia Organa not to mention Furiosa as some of the greatest characters in action adventure movies regardless of their gender. Brilliantly written and acted characters who came across strong without the need to emasculate men in the process

    What a radical concept!

  22. KayKay you can still have white man delusions. Candace Owen has made a career out of it (I don’t think she actually cares for real though).

    I haven’t seen a lot of the movies you mentioned but I did see Star Wars sequels…how did those emasculate men?

    Didn’t Ripley do that too, coming in and they thought she didn’t know what was up yet ALL OF THOSE GOOD MEN WERE WRONG and she was right! If they only listened to her. And all of the surviving men were wounded or ripped in half by the end, with only Brave, Strong, Female Ripley standing tall and holding all of their proverbial balls.

  23. Forget it. I’m sorry I took the bait. You can have it back. I don’t care about your backwards ass politics, just please please please try not to bring up that “everything is too PC these days” shit in your posts. It’s probly different where you are, but in the US that has been the exclusive battle cry of sexist weiners and racist dipshits since around 1992. It’s embarrassing, and it kills the conversations here every time because most people here are cool and don’t want to let some bullshit like that go unchallenged. I’m beyond sick of it.

  24. Vern, your blog, your rules. Will respect them.

    Peace out

  25. I made a comment in the BLOODSPORT III thread about how happy I am that Daniel Bernhardt’s getting some great visibility via his work in high profile movies like this.

    Conversely, after the KICKBOXER remakes and JIU JITSU, I’ll also be perfectly happy if for the rest of my life, I only ever see Alain Moussi as THUG #3, PUNK #2 or 3rd NINJA FROM THE LEFT in movies.

    The man has all the charisma of peeling paint.

  26. I agree with Muh and CrustaceonLove about Christopher Lloyd’s involvement.

    Lloyd ambling around that warehouse shotgunning dudes is funny, but I don’t think funny in the right kind of way. The premise of NOBODY is basically ‘What if Bob Odenkirk was John Wick?’, which sounds like a Funny or Die sketch, but the movie treats it totally seriously and it turns out, he *can* be John Wick and it’s awesome. The finale asks ‘What if Christopher Lloyd was John Wick?’, which sounds like a Funny or Die sketch, and it turns out, yeah, it’s basically a Funny or Die sketch. (The bit at the nursing home was great, though.)

  27. It’s still not in the UK till 11th June. Ffs that makes no sense in the vod age. Can I get one of these vpn things and purchase it that way? I’m no tech person and don’t want to get in any shit.

  28. This was a lot of fun, really good film.
    I would strongly recommend listening to some Odenkirk interviews on this that he did on Howard Stern and the Smartless podcast. Besides being a very interesting guy and a great interview, he describes a real life home invasion that he had and the impact it had on him and this script. Specifically the fact that he didn’t do anything to stop it as it was going on, which really adds a lot more depth to the home invasion and his choice not to do anything about it.

  29. You guys said it all already. One of “those” movies where not even ONE voice hear is on the opposite side!
    A new all time classic for me. I MIGHT even like it more than the first John Wick. Saw it two days in a row and had a great time. But the first time I was sooo impressed with its flow, the time it took to build the suspence and the protagonist’s anger build up.

    The tattoo parlor How Badass Is He was INCREDIBLE. The hacker QUITING also. Outstanding movie which gripped me till the last frame.

    I LOVED Christopher Loyd. I love the subversion of the ultra-tired trope of the helpless dad/daughter/wife dying or being kidnapped. Only badassery through and through in this joint.

    I was so happy seeing this movie. A full grin all the way through and hollering and laughing like crazy from joy on many many occasions.

  30. I’ve been thinking a lot about this movie, particularly how it ties together violence and masculinity. It’s really been eating at me. Overall I think the movie does a really skillful job of threading the needle. It uses action/vigilante movie tropes while avoiding the more reactionary messaging of the genre. For instance, the people who talk about brutalising criminals would typically be the voice of reason, but here they put those words in the mouths of cartoonish jerks (especially that cop, who emasculates him in front of his family for not going full-vigilante… great policing, guy!) But, on the other hand, we are supposed to see his lack of action during the home invasion as cowardly and shameful. We are supposed to see his life of peaceful (if boring) domesticity erupting into violence as a good thing. And I know we aren’t supposed to take things too literally, and that the violence is a metaphor for finding his self-confidence and taking action to improve his life, but I do wonder how healthy it is to be tying those concepts together. Thankfully I’ve been never been in a situation where my family has been threatened, but I have been robbed at knifepoint. It was kind of humiliating (they were basically kids) but would my life be any better if I’d “fought back”? I don’t think so.

    I still think this is a preposterously entertaining movie, but these things have been rattling around in my head, especially with mass shootings and police brutality in the headlines.

  31. Crustacean-It should rattle around in all our brains whenever a narrative posits the viewpoint that violence is a legit rite of passage to reclaim masculinity. It’s a line you can trace all the way back to Peckinpah’s STRAW DOGS, still the most masterly and unsettling exploration of this view in my book.

    NOBODY’s ace in the hole is casting the supremely likeable Odenkirk to sell it.

  32. I saw it as definitely critical of the cop and the neighbor for encouraging him to violence when in most home invasion situations, escalating the violence would probably cause more people to get hurt. His son is a teenager who doesn’t know better, but I got the vibe that he was keeping his family safe even before they revealed his abilities (and at that point I was still expecting him to train to fight, not already have his auditor backstory.)

    Obviously Hutch feels unappreciated for his form of passive resistance. It is thankless but even if we didn’t learn that he knew the Gun was empty, he did the right thing to protect his family. And there are always assholes who armchair quarterback what they would’ve done when you know damn well they would’ve froze or even made things worse.

    As for Hutch’s ultimate need for violence, he did consign himself to a mundane life. Perhaps at first it seemed manageable but that shit beats you down over years. Maybe this is oversimplifying but it could be that Hutch needs to be of service. If his service is murdering Russian bad guys, so be it but he’s clearly judicious and moral the entire time, advising innocents to get out of the line of fire, and even sympathizing with the desperate burglars.

  33. I keep hearing nothing but great things. Even my best friend who is a music nerd and not a movie buff by any means recommended it. He felt satisfied with paying for the rental and he’s usually very critical of horror and action joints since those were the genres we really grew up with. I’m so proud of Odenkirk’s reinvention as more than just the guy from old Conan O’Brien skits and Mr. Show in this here 21st century. Couldn’t happen to a greater guy.

  34. “Vern – Yeah, it’s pretty ambiguous what her part in his past is, so at first I took “just like old times” as meaning she was part of the same organization or something. But by the end it seems like maybe she was just used to having to patch him up when he came home.”

    There’s a line that you may have missed that I thought made it clear. When the family is in the garage leaving, he says to her “Blind for the last time?”. From that, I got that they had an agreement – she didn’t ask questions when he disappeared or came home all bloody and needed patching up. She knows there’s something there, but willingly not digging into it.

  35. I just watched this last night. Now that I can have a couple people over I feel okay paying $20. I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that for just me. Of course I loved it a lot. Great action, just right beats of humor, and the excellent Bob Odenkirk.

    You guys talked a little about the relationship between him and his wife. I don’t think it was that she lost interest in him because he became mild mannered and therefore less masculine. When he’s telling the story about leaving the life of an auditor to become a regular guy he said he thought he’d overcorrected. So, I think it’s about the fact that he lost himself. He was no longer the man she fell in love with, but he was also no longer the man he wanted to be. It wasn’t even that he was no longer violent, he just wasn’t true to himself. This happens with a lot of people when they get older and try to do and be the things they feel they ought to do to be responsible members of society, and especially parents. His situation just happens to be a little more violence centered.

    I loved the scene where he just told Yulian to walk away and that he’d be nearby to see what Yulian decided and he sat in his car with his fingers crossed and I honestly don’t know if he was hoping Yulian was going to take his advice or not.

    Many years ago, maybe as far back as 20 (oh shit, could it really be that long ago?!) Odenkirk was in a series of Budweiser commercials where the schtick was he was running for president of beers because this is America and we don’t have kings. In one he invented a word, traveshamockery, which is travesty, sham, and mockery combined. My friends and I still use this word. What I’m saying is, Odenkirk is so good at everything he does he’s got me quoting a mother fucking beer commercial 20 years after it aired.

  36. Maggie if you’re still able to watch that movie, I’d say check out Bob waiting in the car again for the mobster. I think it’s clear he’s hoping the guy still wants a fight. Bob is JONESING to crush this dude. And when the guy comes out look how pumped Bob looks. He had his kickass tape ready and everything.

  37. I re-watched it and still think it’s ambiguous. I lean towards him wishing for the confrontation and he’s definitely happy to oblige.

  38. I just watched that bit again…I rememebred him smiling when the guy came out…but I got that wrong. So maybe. However when he passes by the mobster shoots at him and a bullet goes through his windshield, and he smiles then. Yeah I still gotta lean to this is what he wanted. I don’t think you can be wishing with both hands crossed that he doesn’t come out, and then be having a good time once the carnage starts. He was trying to give it once last go, and be a normal guy…mobster coming out gives him the excuse NOT to be that guy, and that’s why he gets his job back and everything at the end.

  39. Picture how much better this would have been if the main guy was played by Matthew Perry.

  40. “Could I BE anymore about to fuck you up?”

  41. Fun movie but more of a mixed bag than I expected/hoped. Loved Odenkirk in the first half, from the quick cutting montage showing his gray life through his glee at the opportunity to fuck those guys up on the bus. (and I also loved how the movie just sets those guys up as “irredeemable assholes who totally deserve what’s coming to them” – they casually crash a car, diss the busdriver, threaten a female rider and STEP ON A GUY’S BOOK – there’s no coming back from that) Had a harder time getting into the second half, maybe because of [SPOILERS OF COURSE] the relationship with his wife and his job/home… I felt iffy about his coming home battered and bruised leading to her taking down the literal wall of pillows between them in bed. (what was up with those pillows? back problems? I had questions!) But then his quick transition from sending her and the kids off with “please trust me this one last time” to literally burning down their house, hotwiring a very distinctive car, torching the russian mob’s fortune, confronting the mob boss with a claymore mine, then buying the factory only to booby trap it and lure a zillion bad guys there to turn it into a war zone… like, what’s the game plan here?? From the trailer (including the hilarious sight gag of Hutch pausing to rub out the number on the “___ days since we had an injury” sign) I had hopes he’d wind up sneaking into their operation… not that he’d draw them into his world and then destroy it and them together. Weird. It might just be me, but I find the “good guy sets up elaborate traps for the hapless goons” convention unsatisfying, even sadistic – it’s too HOME ALONE for me. I’d rather feel the protagonist is at risk and barely getting by, not that they’re choreographing the whole thing five steps ahead of the antagonists. (It’s my least favorite sequence in SHOOT EM UP as well) All that said, my buddy and I laughed a lot, the bus fight was freaking great, and the 2 HBIH? moments were both classics, especially the tattoo parlor guy’s parting glance back through the door. And a total bonus, the Bunny Sigler version of “Let the Good Times Roll / Feel So Good” from the ending was all new to me – killer!!!

  42. I never saw MR. SHOW or BETTER CALL SAUL, so I didn’t really have an opinion on Bob Odenkirk prior to seeing this. So I’m extra glad I caught up with it just in time to take part in the nationwide sigh of relief that happened when we all woke up this morning to find out that he’s going to pull through his alarmingly vague health crisis. The guy clearly strives for excellence at all times and is not an asshole about it, and we need more success stories like that in this world.

  43. On a whim, I rented HARDCORE HENRY, which I missed the first time around… and I loved it. I get the complaints in this review, and I get why it would turn off a lot of people, but I loved it.

    I’ve always wondered what a movie that was *actually* wall-to-wall action would feel like. I’d never seen it before. Movies like FURY ROAD or THE RAID maybe have action for the *majority* of the screen time, but there are plenty of lulls, which is fine and maybe necessary (in the the review of the THE RAID here, Vern writes “THE RAID’s idea of a quiet moment is a scene where they’re stuck in a crawlspace trying not to get stabbed by a machete” but that’s not really true, there’s some genuine downtime). But in HARDCORE HENRY, not even the lulls are lulls. The brief intervals between action scenes are things like a tour through a busy brothel, or a very technically impressive sort-of musical number that describing would be a spoiler. It’s nuts.

    Again, I get why most people would find that exhausting and not exhilarating, like I do. I remember watching THE PROTECTOR with my family all the way back in 2007 and their attention started to wander during the famous long-take. And that was four minutes, never mind 80 minutes.

  44. 90 minutes*, I mean. A packed 90 minutes.

  45. I also liked HARDCORE HENRY, even though it gave me a splitting headache in the theater. It could have coasted on its gimmick and just been a normal action movie about some special forces bro on a mission to murder some dusky people, only shot from the hero’s POV, but instead it added in 13 or 14 layers of supplementary weirdness that nobody asked for. I appreciate that kind of thing. I find a lot of action movies very timid, probably because the vast majority of their viewers are meatheads who will instinctively mock anything that colors even slightly outside the lines. HARDCORE HENRY doesn’t have that problem and is consequently very easy to make fun of if you’re of the mindset that “weird” always equals “bad.” For me, “weird” doesn’t necessarily equal “good” but it always equals “better than not weird.”

  46. Ben, the pillows in relationships slightly on the rocks usually means something from “don’t roll over here in the middle of the night and try anything” to “don’t even breathe on me”.

  47. Took me a minute to get to this one, but I’m so glad I finally did. What a blast!

    I came in with basically zero information besides the poster. In fact, I somehow was under the impression that this was going to be a smart-ass-ier DEATH WISH or DEATH SENTENCE-style “meek guy goes vigilante after a home invasion” scenario. Definitely not expecting the EQUALIZER turn. Come to think of it, they even jacked the whole Russian mob thing from EQUALIZER 1

  48. Anyway, I’m definitely here for the Odenkirk and the ass-kicking, and this film delivers that in spades. That’s plenty enough, and is about same as I feel about EQUALIZER: Just give me Denzel’s gravitas plus BOURNE-esque ass-kicking, and I’m here. Same with Odenkirk, though clearly a very different type of charisma as Denzel. With Denzel it’s actual charisma, with Odenkirk it’s this kind of strange everyman anti-charisma-charisma.

    But enough about EQUALIZER. Connie Nielsen is dope, too. RZA was a little too RZA for my taste: reminded me a lot of his 12 REASONS TO DIE narration, too affectedly RZA-y and takes me out of the film. Not a major ding, but he was a brick. Christopher Lloyd was okay. Kind of cute and fun, kind of cringe, kind of settles out at about a wash for me. I think I’d have preferred more grounded actors, whereas it’s hard for me to take either of them super seriously.

    Stray thought – Odenkirk’s son gives off a strong Rick(y) Schoeder vibe.
    Stray other thought – Despite this, it’s hard for me to muster a ton of enthusiasm for John Wick, but I’ll try.

    In summary: This is a winner; yes, the world needs more EQUALIZER even if that makes me an honorary boomer; yes, we’ve found our lead for the Rick Schroeder biopic that audiences have been clamoring for.

  49. Just saw it for the first time and loved it. If I have one minor complaint it’s the car crash scene. He uses the fire extinguisher inside the car, the driver has to slow down, the car crashes on a pole pretty slowly… and then a mysterious off-screen force flips the car. It’s like the director realized “oh wait, that slow crash would never kill the passengers” and instead of having them get out of the car and fight, he just added a flip that doesn’t really make sense. Or did I miss something?

  50. I finally got around to watch it this morning and while I was prepared for great action, I was caught offguard by how damn funny this movie is! There is not enough humor in it to call it an action comedy, but it does have fun with its script and most of all when it actually goes for real jokes, they land! I still chuckle at that SIMPSONS-esque gag of the old man in the tattoo shop realizing who Odenkirk is and getting the fuck out before shit goes down, the “stop requested” sign or or Michael Ironside’s non-reaction to seeing his douchebag son getting punched in the stomach.

    However, I really don’t want a sequel. Don’t know if there ever was one announced or if Bob Odenkirk’s health scare allows him to ever exercise hard enough for 2 NO 2 BODY, but as much as I enjoyed all the characters in it, I’m okay with it being a standalone movie. I guess how the JOHN WICKs became more and more overblown with unnecessary GAME OF THRONES bullshit about 20 different gangsterbosses trying to fight each other and using John Wick as a pawn in their plan, made me a bit scared of what a sequel could be.

  51. While I’m am not clamoring for a NOBODY sequel as much as I like the original, the expansion of the John Wick world-building is A-Ok with me, as the charm of the original wasn’t just in the amazing action sequence but the shadowy underworld of assassins it portrayed with it’s own code and rules, and it was cool that while Wick is a totally sympathetic character in the original, his problems in Parts 2 and 3 stem largely from his own stubbornness and one could even say, arrogance, and presuming that he could just check in and out of the assassin world like it was The Continental and not face the consequences. He refused to honor the marker, then killed in The Continental and dug himself deeper. But there’s corruption in the High Table and I’m down with Neo and Morpheus…sorry Wick and The Bowery King teaming up to take them down. The stakes get higher as the intricacies and rules of this world get deeper. The world building perfectly complements the action. Without it, these films could well be just a 2 hour stunt demo reel.

  52. Don’t get me wrong, I love the JOHN WICK sequels for its willingness to create a world that is inhabited by 95% assassins with fun gimmicks and personalities, who only seem to go after each other instead of the usual accountant who discovered that her boss laundered money for the mob, or a 19 year old hacker who accidentally cracked a secret government code and saw something that he wasn’t supposed to see. And I will continue to watch these flicks as long as they push the limits of action scenes in Hollywood movies.

    But I prefer part 1’s “The best assassin in the world comes out of retirement to avenge his dog and get his car back” over their current “Group A plans a hostile takeover of group B and blackmails John Wick into helping them, while Group C wants John Wick dead, because he worked for Group D once, also there is a Group E who hates Groups A, C and D, but now blackmails John Wick into killing Group B while he works for them, because only then they can take revenge on their hated groups and rule assassin world with Group F, who secretly tries to kill John Wick and frame group G for it, because they have formed an alliance with group H and apparently hate John Wick’s haircut or whatever.”

    Same with NOBODY. A lean 90s minutes action fest about a retired one man army, who accidentally started a war with the Russian mob, when he accidentally beat the shit out of the wrong guy after he needed a fresh shot of violence in his life. I wouldn’t want a 2 1/2 hour version where John Nobody is trapped in an unnecessary complicated plot between 20 different subsections of 10 crime organsations, while he tries to take down the government agency that staged the home invasion of part 1 to force him out of retirement.

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