In director Ilya Naishuller’s (“Hardcore Henry”) clever action film “Nobody,” Bob Odenkirk, well known for his tremendous performance as Saul Goodman/Jimmy McGill in “Breaking Bad” and its prequel “Better Call Saul,” transforms himself into a Denzel-Washington-type action hero. In his first role as an action star, Odenkirk plays a good ordinary man (maybe not that ordinary, you’ll see) who tries to leave his past of violence behind, and he’s really good at this kind of role. That’s why we love him in “Better Call Saul.” Isn’t it?

The film opens with a montage of Hutch Mansell’s (Odenkirk) repetitive daily life. He works as an accountant in a manufacturing factory owned by his father-in-law (Michael Ironside). From Monday to Friday, he hops on the same bus, scans the same transit card, and always takes out the trash too late to catch the garbage truck. At home, his two kids seldom talks to him, and his wife (Connie Nielsen) separates them by pillows in bed. In shorts, he seems like a “nobody.” 

But something awakens him. Two armed robbers invade his house at night, rob some money, hurt his son, and steal his daughter’s kitty cat bracelet. Here’s the transformation Odenkirk impresses us once again. He repositions himself physically from a loser to an action star totally believable. It starts with a fight scene on the bus in which Hutch is beaten by a group of intoxicated men in the beginning, but gradually wins over these guys and eventually kicks their asses, as if his hidden skill is being awakened one punch by one punch. However, one of the drunken guys he almost kills is the brother of a crazily cruel Russian mafia Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov). From here, “Nobody” examines the impact of past violence, something very similar to David Cronenberg’s 2005 “A History of Violence.”

Naishuller constructs a package of action scenes of gun battles, hand-to-hand combats, and car chases. These scenes are unstoppable featuring eclectic soundtracks and unique slow-mo that will make you think of Quentin Tarantino’s films. Cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski (“Hereditary” and “Midsommar”) delivers us an ultimate enjoyment with a very well-crafted camera movement that fits harmoniously with the insane action choreography by the “John Wick” team. Even playing under a familiar genre structure, “Nobody” still has something special that is capable to make audiences feel fresh. It’s a very rare modern action film that I’ll wish for a sequel, or perhaps Hutch can join in the “John Wick cinematic universe” (writer Derek Kolstad also wrote all three “John Wick” films). I’m willing to put this as one of my death wishes. 

GRADE: B-

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  • Distributor: Universal Pictures
  • Production: 87North, Eighty Two Films, and Odenkirk Provissiero Entertainment
  • Director: Ilya Naishuller
  • Writer: Derek Kolstad
  • Producer: Braden Aftergood, David Leitch, Kelly McCormick, Bob Odenkirk, and Marc Provissiero
  • Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Aleksey Serebryakov, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, Michael Ironside, RZA, Gage Munroe, and Paisley Cadorath
  • “Nobody” release in theaters Mar. 26, 2021

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