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Nobody

Year: 2021
Production Co: 87North
Studio: Universal
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Aleksey Serebryakov, RZA, Michael Ironside

Bob Odenkirk is a good actor, but I've found he only suits a very narrow range of parts. Something about him makes it very hard for me to buy the idea of him as a tough as nails assassin hiding under the guise of being a suburban family man and maybe that's what attracted me to this movie.

Unfortunately it's a bit of a one-trick concept, and while some of the action scenes (including the bus fight that got all the attention) are very cool, it needed a much stronger story underpinning it. Weird asides like the guy he talks to on the radio who turns out to be his adopted brother just jar.

Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) is treated with contempt by his kids. He barely touches or speaks to his wife. He works with her obnoxious brother and father (Michael Ironside) managing a factory he's thinking of buying so he can be his own boss, despite his existence there in the daily grind of working (including constantly forgetting to put the bins out, etc) wearing him down.

But when two burglars break in one night, it precipitates the real Hutch to emerge, one he decided to leave behind years ago. When they threaten his son Hutch doesn't intervene, seen later by everyone as a failure and a weakling. Only he knows the truth – the robbers were terrified, desperate and the gun wasn't loaded, something only a trained mercenary would spot. But when it turns out the robbers took his young daughter's favourite bracelet, he tools up and goes downtown in a rage to retrieve it, his only clue a tattoo one of them had.

The scene where an elderly customer at a tattoo shop where he's conducting his search sees Hutch's own tattoo and gingerly backs out of the room, locking the door, tells you that Hutch's background is indeed loaded, and when he gets the robbers' address out of the proprietor and goes to extract revenge, he instead sees a young, poor couple with a sick baby and retreats in shame at his hatred.

But on the bus headed for home, still boiling with adrenaline, Hutch defends a gang of drunk youths harassing a young woman by beating seven shades of shit out of them.

One of them then turns out to be the son of a Russian mobster who's sitting on a huge cache of money but wants to get out of the business, but not before exacting revenge on the dirtbag who put his son in hospital. It sets up a climactic confrontation between Hutch, his brother, their equally tough Dad (Christopher Lloyd) and the forces of the Russian mob.

There are some fun moments, but the whole isn't as much as the sum of the parts. The Russian mobster seemed like the sort of thing that would happen six or eight episodes into a series about this character's exploits – it's a weird subplot that evolves into the main storyline. Much more interesting is the background and world Hutch has come from that's only ever hinted at but never really explored.

For one thing, as well as never getting a proper handle on the guy, the film seems unable to decide what's driving him – is it his background as a coldly efficient fighter and killer or is he breaking out of his drab existence in frustrated rage (something the title seems to allude to)?

On top of that there are two deep ironies. One is the casting. Odenkirk plays a suburban shlub okay – he's much better as the slick-talking snake oil salesman in the Breaking Bad universe – but I just can't see him as a merciless, government-trained killer.

The second irony (considering what I said above about the Russian mob storyline feeling a bit superfluous) is that Aleksey Serebryakov as the villain, Yulian, is a much more interesting character than Hutch, with some new vibes we've never seen in bad guys but who's still scarily effective.

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