Since the success of Liam Neeson’s Taken, there’s been a trend for mature actors reinventing themselves as superannuated action heroes. The latest to throw his toupee into the ring is Bob Odenkirk (better known to many as Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul/Breaking Bad). Here he plays Hutch Mansell, the ‘Nobody’ of the title and, in a series of rapid fire clips, we’re shown just how ordinary his everyday existence is. Married to Becca (Connie Neilsen), with a couple of young kids to support, his biggest concern seems to be getting the household garbage out on time for the weekly pickup. You know. An ordinary guy with an ordinary job and an ordinary past.
But a household burglary intrudes upon his routine and the fact that the thieves steal his little girl’s Kitty Kat bracelet makes him snap – whereupon we learn that Hutch isn’t quite as ordinary as he seems. He is a former ‘auditor’ for the FBI, a man adept at using his fists and a variety of weapons to lethal effect – which he now proceeds to do with unwholesome relish, first by taking on a bunch of bullies who have the misfortune to get onto the same bus as him and latterly, by taking on Russian mobster Yulian (Aleksey Serebryakov), a man who is no stranger to violence himself and who seems to have half the Russian population of America at his beck and call.
Nobody is decently acted and glossily filmed and it has a penchant for putting Vegas-style ballads behind the action sequences, which sometimes works to good effect – but what’s utterly repugnant about this film is the neanderthal subtext, the suggestion that a man cannot be truly happy unless he’s driving a broken bottle into another man’s face. Even more insulting is the notion that women secretly respect this – a scene where Becca responds sexually to Hutch, after years of abstinence, because he has reinvented himself as a ‘tough guy’ is pretty much the final straw. All the female characters here are either silent victims or, like Becca, they respond to the overtures of a ‘real man’.
It’s 2021 for Christ’s sake! This kind of nonsense would have seemed hopelessly outdated back in 2008, when Taken was originally released, but now you wonder how anybody could be so insensitive as to create something so morally reprehensible. (Derek Kolstad, step forward and accept the Misogynist of the Year prize.) Odenkirk must also carry some of the blame, since his production company is behind this farrago.
As the film progresses (if I can use that verb), the mayhem becomes ever more over-amped and ridiculous, as Hutch – aided by his aged dad, David (Christopher Lloyd), and the mysterious Harry (RZA) -takes on hordes of Russian hitmen, none of whom appear to have had any weapons training and who are summarily beaten, shot, stabbed and blown to smithereens. Kolstad, of course, created the character of John Wick and that franchise is no stranger to extended fight scenes, but here the prolonged action just becomes monotonous, as limbs are snapped, eyes gouged out and bodies blown to pulp.
By this time, I’m just praying for it to end – and don’t get me started on the film’s ludicrous conclusion, which appears to be hoping for another instalment of this drivel. The most depressing thought of all is that Nobody might just succeed in that ambition.