Release Date: 26/03/2021
Director: Ilya Naishuller
Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)
I love films that have protagonists that violently push the narrative of the film further. These are the kinds of films that are the most entertaining and absorbing. In Nobody, Bob Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, a man who from the very first scene feels bored of his normal and uneventful existence and gives out vibes that he is a lot more than what meets the eye. Even though he follows the same routine every day, the pace of editing of these sequences tells us that he is nearing a breaking point. That point comes when two gunmen try to rob his house and can make way with some cash. This incident lights a fuse somewhere deep inside Hutch that had remained dormant for years. He now has to quench his thirst for violence and retribution.
He gets the perfect excuse to go after these thieves when it is learned that the house is missing a “kitty collar”. For just that, he searches the town for the robbers, breaks into their house, and is poised to murder at least one of them when he realises that they were trying to rob his house to make money to finance their ailing kid’s treatment. He rushes out of the house and vents his anger on a nearby wall. He boards a bus and is still flustered as his appetite for violence and macabre hasn’t been satisfied. It is at this moment that the bus is boarded by a gang of apparent bad guys who do nothing more than just look tough and trash talk a female passenger. That is all that takes Hutch to unleash unforeseen violence on these men that leads to the death of one of them. The departed happens to be the brother of a Russian mob enforcer, Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov). Soon the Russian come all guns blazing after Hutch and he couldn’t have been happier.
Unlike most other films of this type, the protagonist in Nobody doesn’t go back to his violent ways after some tragedy befalls him. Hutch Mansell wanted a happy and peaceful life for himself but it would be safe to say that he had got bored of it. His inner devil was beginning to get the better of him and all he needed was an excuse to let loose his old self. He got that in the chain of events that developed after the robbery at his home. The rest was all his handiwork. This is something that Nobody does unique to the kind of film that we expect it to turn out as.
Getting back to my point of the protagonist pushing the flow of the narrative in the film, it is always Hutch Mansell who makes the first move and he always follows it up with a counter move that is a result of what the other party does to him. He puts the game into motion by going after the burglars that result in him boarding the bus and bashing those guys. When the mob comes after him, he kills them all and then goes a step further to incite and threaten their leader Yulian Kuznetsov by burning the cache of money that he is protecting and paying him a visit in his club. He provokes the man to the extent that he has no option but to come after him. When he does, our protagonist is all ready and prepared to bring him down. This not only results in turning the film into a compelling drama but also makes the protagonist feel inspired by what he doing and that much easier to root for.
Bob Odenkirk may be the oddest choice to play a character like Hutch Mansell, but he nails the character by not only doing exceptionally well in the dramatic bits but also giving it his all in the action sequences. He has done quite a lot of the action sequences on his own as they are shot in wide angles with Odenkirk in full view. The action choreography is done so well that it is hard not to appreciate all that is put on screen. We see the man get battered and bruised but he invariably gets up and goes after the bad guys with all that he has got left. This makes for a compelling watch as we see that the hero is not beyond the clasps of harm.
My only qualm with the action was with how the climax of the film was handled. Even though the fight choreography was done efficiently, I couldn’t help but question the presence of another two characters in the scene and the viability of having them both there. These two characters never come in harm’s way even though they are showered with bullets. One of the characters is an old man who is not supposed to move as fast as he is shown moving. This seriously affects the otherwise acceptable liberties that the film takes throughout the rest of its runtime. If only it was a final show-off between Mansell and the Russians, it would have made for a much believable finale.
I just loved how the director weaved some of the songs into the narrative and let vital events unfold as the songs played in the background. This happens more than once and on all those occasions you have no problem accepting what is unfolding onscreen and the contradictory song that playing as a background score. On the contrary, it elevates the mood of the proceedings and even though you see violent scenes unfolding on screen, the music and the way these sequences are shot and edited adds a sense of poetic beauty to it all.
Aleksey Serebryakov plays the antagonist Yulian Kuznetsov in the film. He is someone who performs in his club and gets called out for portraying a soft side of his by his colleague. They feel that he should present a more fear-inducing image of his because of the kind of work that he is entrusted with by his business partners. Yulian swiftly proceeds to decapitate a random person in the club to prove his might and underline his clout. While this scene feels over the top and unnecessary it does underline the kind of mentality that the Russian mob has and ups the stake for Hutch Mansell who is at this point on his way to lock horns with the same antagonist. Aleksey does a good job with the character and I thoroughly enjoyed his scenes with Odenkirk. However, I would have loved to see him be a little more challenging and hard to kill.
Nobody is exactly what it promised to be. Apart from the poorly done climax, the film thrilled me from start to finish. Odenkirk is terrific as the Hutch Mansell and I just loved how he gave out the right vibes for a character that compulsively pushed the entire story forward, singlehandedly. The action was well done and Odenkirk did a lot of his action sequences on his own that allowed the director to shoot and edit it in certain ways that made it even better. The antagonist is good enough to infuse fear but could have put up a bigger fight. For anyone looking for some pulse-pounding action, stellar performance, and faced-paced storytelling, Nobody will be a good option. It tells a story that we have heard 100 times before but tells it with such finesse and gusto that it makes the story worth listening to one more time.
First published on EastMojo.