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Credit: (all photos) imdb

Nobody (2021)

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Writer: Derek Kolstad


Bob Odenkirk: Hutch Mansell

Connie Nielsen: Becca Mansell

Christopher Lloyd: David Mansell

Aleksey Serebryakov: Yulian Kuznetsov

RZA: Harry Mansell

Colin Salmon: The Barber

Gage Monroe:  Blake Mansell

Paisley Cadorath:  Abby Mansell 

Jason Bourne, John Wick, Hutch Mansell.  “Hutch Mansell?”  Nobody is the origin story of a devoted family man who loves his family, but is among the more conflicted cinematic heroes.  The movie begins and ends with a handcuffed Hutch Mansell—Bob Odenkirk–being interviewed by two detectives.  He has a tiny kitten hidden in his jacket, as well as a can of cat food and a can opener, which he uses to feed the kitten.

Yes, I know he would have been searched and deprived of the kitten, can opener and cat food long before sitting down in an interview room.  There are a number of unrealistic scenes like this, but they allow the plot to unfold smoothly, so as Eric Stratton said in Animal House when Bluto talked about the Germans bombing Pearl Harbor, forget it: the movie’s rolling.

The central conflict is Hutch is truly a decent and kind man who lives a boring, middle class life, but he’s also a highly skilled killer who needs to use those skills—wants to use them—but for the good of his family, represses them.  The result is Hutch sleeps with his wife—Connie Nielsen–who has constructed an actual, not metaphorical, wall of pillows between them in bed.

As one might imagine, there has to be some reason for Hutch to let his inner killer out.  But first we see his day-to-day, boring life, much of it shot with gray skies–symbolism.  Oddly, he lives an upper middle class life, but the family has only a single car, so he has to ride the bus to work, and pretty much everywhere else.  This too is a plot device.

It begins when two burglars break into his home one night, and he lets them go, even though he had the drop on the single armed burglar.  We’re led to think he’s a coward, and his son Blake—Gage Monroe–obviously thinks so, but his wife doesn’t seem to blame him, and his daughter Abby—Paisley Cadorath—loves her dad no matter what.

The burglars got away only with his watch, and apparently, Abby’s kitty cat bracelet, which is the last straw, and using his father David’s—Christopher Lloyd–old FBI ID and revolver, he sets out to identify the burglars by a tattoo he saw one wearing, which is where we really get the first clues Hutch is something other than we’ve been led to believe.

He ends up in a rough tattoo shop where one of the hangers on spots his tattoo, and realizing Hutch is a military trained, very special forces type, leaves in a panic, which causes the other tough customers in the shop to suddenly become very polite.  Hutch finds his burglars, but not the kitty cat bracelet—it was misplaced at home all along; a neat bit of irony—and leaves them unhurt because he really is a good guy.

On the way home, on a bus as usual, a SUV load of Russian mob dimwits crashes, and stumbles onto the bus, behaving as criminal dimwits will.  Hutch is absolutely in the right mood, and while receiving a pretty good beating himself, puts all five in the hospital.  Now we know he’s more than we’ve been led to believe.

Deranged movie bad guy…

This of course leads us to Yulian Kuznetsov–Aleksey Serebryakov—the local, loathsome, Russian mob boss, and brother of one of the dimwits Hutch crippled.  As mob bosses do in movies, he researches Hutch, and when his female IT whiz discovers his background, she delivers the information and flees. Kuznetsov reacts with fear at what she’s found, but he’s too stupid to leave well enough alone.

In the meantime, we discover Hutch, at work, has a sort of hi-tech secret communication system with his brother Harry—RZA—and he gets a text telling him to see “the Barber”—Colin Salmon—who isn’t really a barber, but is being shaved by a barber.  The Barber is obviously someone high up in the intelligence business.  He gives Hutch a complete dossier on Yulian, and of course, a large number of mob gunmen come to Hutch’s home to kill him.  This is really the last straw for Hutch, because as he later tells Yulian, that’s something that just isn’t done.

And that’s where the real fun begins.  Nobody was written by Derek Kolstad.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the writing force behind the John Wick movies.  In John Wick style, wild shootouts ensue, leading to the climactic battle in Hutch’s machine shop sort of business.  Aided by his father David and brother Harry, Hutch stylishly dispatches all the bad guys, blowing up Yulian with a Claymore…you really need to see it.  As in the Wick movies, the police really aren’t anywhere until they need to pop in to solidify Hutch’s backstory.

The movie—only an hour and 32 minutes long–moves quickly.  As in the Wick series, general weapon handling is a cut above usual movie fare, though there are some concessions to “cool,” such as Hutch firing submachine guns one handed, which is guaranteed to hit pretty much everything one is not trying to hit.  There are some genuine funny moments—many deeply ironic—in the movie, though they’re a bit more subtle than in many movies of this type.  My favorite is as he’s about to wipe out innumerable killers at his business, Hutch spots a sign proudly stating there have been X number of days without an accident, which number he hastily erases with his hand.

Connie Nielsen is underused in this movie, though she does serve as a woman who knows who Hutch really is, and accepts him.  Christopher Lloyd is delightly deranged.  A man who favors shotguns, though his character is elderly and in a nursing home, he blows bad guys apart with gleeful abandon.  RZA—by that I’m sure you’ve figured out he’s black—also demonstrates some impressive fighting skills.

Odenkirk, who many may recognize from his work in Breaking Bad, establishes himself as an action hero.  As people who really are capable know, it’s not the 6’4” 240 pound muscle men who are truly dangerous.  And the best part of the movie is the final scene when Becca sets up the sequel.  And in a Marvel-like scene after the ending credits, so do Harry and David.

OK, so Hutch and Harry both take rifle rounds to the shoulder, and show no apparent disability, but again, it’s a movie, and a fun one at that.  Available on DVD and various streaming venues, it’s worth seeing, and worth owning.  No one is going to be inspired to discuss the nature of man as the closing credits roll, but it’s entertaining, and it’s nice to be able to root for the kind of guy who does away with people who really need to be done away with.  It’s a movie for our times.