In Nobody, an unassuming man with a dark past uses his particular set of skills against a platoon of bad guys and their boss, who have greatly underestimated with whom they are dealing. If it sounds a lot like a recent and ongoing series of films, that isn’t an accident. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad was responsible for all three of those movies and has migrated from them to this film, which doesn’t exactly offer anything new to the subset of motion pictures of this kind – no-nonsense action-thriller hybrids with bone-crunching violence and a lack of pretense regarding its intentions. Well, it isn’t entirely true that nothing new has been added. The movie does cast Bob Odenkirk in the eponymous role, after all.

We have become accustomed, mostly due to the actor’s comic roots and the later influence of a certain television series and its spin-off, to Odenkirk’s onscreen persona as something of a weasel trying to operate as a smooth-talker (those two TV series even cast him as a slimeball lawyer who survives by the skin of his teeth and the grace of his employers). It is a little jarring, then, to see him in the first action sequence of director Ilya Naishuller’s film, which pits Odenkirk’s Hutch Mansell against five bulky guys on a bus. These hoodlums have decided to target a young woman on the bus with catcalls and who knows what else. Hutch isn’t going to have it. The men think they know what they’re in for. All of them end up in the hospital, and one of them ends up with a straw sticking out of his throat for an airway.

This tells us pretty much everything we need to know about Hutch, played by Odenkirk as a man of determined resolve. He does not want violence. He has left his old job as “auditor” for several government agencies for a comfortable suburban life with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and two children. He occasionally visits his former FBI agent father (Christopher Lloyd) and receives intel when necessary from a mysterious and helpful figure (RZA) behind a microphone. His days have become a crushing routine of the same, old thing every day, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He just had to involve himself in the protection of that young woman, though.

It turns out that the one he amateurly intubated was the younger brother of Yulian (Alexey Serebryakov), a Russian drug lord who, of course, doesn’t take kindly to his only family being put into a coma. Lots of violent retribution ensues. That is pretty much everything we need to know about this movie, and the rest comes down to how well Naishuller pulls everything off in his far superior sophomore effort.

To put it bluntly, it works pretty well and for many of the same reasons Kolstad’s other series of films based around this concept also worked pretty well: There is a no-muss, no-fuss approach here that streamlines nearly everything in sight. We understand, after learning what an “auditor” is (hint: it has everything to do with loose ends and nothing to do with finances), Hutch’s motivation to leave the life he once led, and we sympathize, in very simple ways, when what he has gained is threatened by his sudden circumstances.

We especially understand that the overarching point is for the film to get to its sequences of bloody action and combat (unexpectedly captured with a gorgeous, atmospheric aesthetic by cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski), and Naishuller delivers on that promise as if he’s a kid in the toy story (it is especially fun seeing Lloyd, an inarguable cinematic legend hopefully nowhere near the twilight of his career, eventually get in on the action, shotgun in hand). Nobody offers nothing more than the basics, but it’s a pretty good example of doing just that with stylish, sleek aplomb.

Nobody offers nothing more than the basics, but it’s a pretty good example of doing just that with stylish, sleek aplomb.
70 %
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