‘Nobody,’ a beautiful and grounded action movie

What do you get when you cross the director of “Hardcore Henry” with the creative team behind the “John Wick” franchise? “Nobody” (2021), a beautifully executed action movie grounded in the brutal violence of reality.

“Nobody” is an exhilarating 92 minutes of cinema complete with one of the most intense hand to hand fight scenes ever conveyed in film. Bob Odenkirk of “Better Call Saul” shines in his role as Hutch Mansell. He’s a regular guy with a regular family working a regular job: a nobody. Of course, this normalcy doesn’t last long. It is soon revealed that Hutch has the sort of John Wick-esque reputation that makes criminals rethink their life choices. The stars align, and he’s thrust into a bloody war with the Russian mafia.

And bloody war is certainly the right description. The body count in this movie is around 75, more than the entire “Die Hard” franchise but slightly less than the first “John Wick” flick. However, it is the quality rather than the quantity of violence that truly elevates “Nobody” above all the other middle-aged-star-turned-badass movies. The violence feels real, and every hit taken by the titular character feels like it truly hurts. “Nobody” stands alongside “Oldboy” (2003) as having one of the single best choreographed, filmed and edited fight scenes I’ve seen. This attention to detail is evident in every part of the film. Its stylised look beautifully compliments the gritty action happening on screen.

It is impossible not to directly compare “Nobody” to the “John Wick” franchise. After all, the works were written by the same creative team. “John Wick” (2014) was praised for its slick action, set pieces and the fluidity of gunplay. “Nobody” is a slight departure from this formula, giving Emmy nominee Bob Odenkirk the opportunity to embody his character. His performance was characteristically excellent.

None of this is to say that the movie takes itself too seriously or isn’t any fun. The last act, in particular, borders on over the top excess. Clearly inspired by the classic Hong Kong movies of John Woo, director Ilya Naishuller made sure to end the movie in spectacular fashion.

“Nobody” is an action film for the discerning cinephile looking for something fun. To quote Hutch Mansell himself, “Give me the goddamn kitty-cat bracelet, motherfucker!”


jenner1@stolaf.edu