Short sharp action movies, when done well, are a joy. The recent trend in geriatric action heroes wish-fulfilling their mid-life-crises as they punch foreign-accented villains has brought about a lot of tosh, but also a few gems. Though it began much earlier, this cinematic movement owes a huge debt to Taken. Seeing a fifty-something-year-old man beat up men half his age evoked something in the general viewing public, and that film still stands out as a great example of the genre, if you ignore its awful sequels. Nobody follows that pattern, like John Wick before it, and yet there is something very different here.
The hero this time is comedic actor Bob Odenkirk, best known perhaps for playing Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. He has already proven his acting chops in the latter of those shows, and so here when he begins as a bland and forgetful loser he is entirely believable. The crux point—the moment where this could all fall apart—is where he switches to become a lethal killing machine. Fortunately for Odenkirk, he does this incredibly well.
Apparently, Odenkirk spent two years training for the fight scenes in this film. He did not want to be muscle-bound, but wiry and move in a way that was realistic for a highly-trained killer. He does exactly that.
Nobody is a violent film, but a good film. It is barely an hour and a half long, which is very much a good thing, as there is no flab or excess here. It is a brutal and hard-hitting movie which also packs an emotional punch. The scenes of Odenkirk at home with his long-suffering family who all are bored of him are touching, especially as that boring routine is exactly what he wants out of life.
Connie Nielsen is not given much to do as Odenkirk’s wife, but she can act so much with a simple facial expression that despite the lack of writing for her character, she delivers a brilliant performance. The main villain is played manically by Aleksey Serebryakov, and he has a lot of fun with it. Odenkirk’s brother is played by RZA with verve, and though his screen time is brief, he makes an impact with his voice-based conversations with our hero. Their father, however, steals the show. It is Christopher Lloyd in this position, looking older and frailer than I have ever seen, yet the joy on his face as he waves a shotgun around is incredible. It is very clear that everyone who took part in this film had a blast making it, so credit needs to go to director Ilya Naishuller for creating an atmosphere that allowed for that to happen whilst also pulling together a solid action movie.
Nobody is a lot of fun. It is better than you might expect. Go in without expectations and before you know it, you’ll be grinning, just like Odenkirk, at the medley of violence that unfolds.