Other than a scene that sets up Yulian as a psychopathic villain that runs a bit too long, Naishuller is smart enough to use the momentum from the bus scene to push through the rest of the story. “Nobody” is an incredibly quick film, an experience that feels nowhere near as long as its 92-minute runtime. One could argue that the movie could have used a bit more prologue that would make Becca and their children into characters instead of functions for the plot, but there’s a tightness to “Nobody” that’s often lacking in modern films, one that’s reminiscent of the economy of the “John Wick” flicks, which is one of that trilogy’s greatest strengths.
Then there’s Odenkirk. Watching “Nobody” a second time made it easier to appreciate how much he brings to a role that someone could have easily sleepwalked through for a paycheck (this would be a much lesser movie with the current king of the Paycheck Performance, Bruce Willis, for example). Odenkirk deftly sells both halves of Hutch, making both his current family life and his violent past believable. It’s a smart performance, which should come as no surprise to fans of his work on “Breaking Bad” and “Saul,” but it’s also a wonderfully physical one in that he makes the stunt work and fight choreography genuine. The supporting cast is strong—particularly RZA and Lloyd, both of whom know exactly what to bring to this project—but it’s Odenkirk’s film through and through, and he nails it.
Unsurprisingly from the director of the insanity that is “Hardcore Henry,” Naishuller has a habit of overplaying his stylistic hand every now and then with slo-mo montages set to unusual music choices. And there’s a version of the film that feels like it has higher stakes—no one ever really feels in jeopardy here (at least “John Wick” had the dog). But Naishuller ultimately gets what matters here right, giving a talented actor an unexpected vehicle to drive really fast with just enough bloodshed for action fans, and not too much gore for average audiences. It’s the rare modern action film that makes me hope it does well enough to produce a sequel. (I also think there’s potential for a crossover “John Wick vs. Nobody” project that would make roughly a gajillion dollars worldwide.)
Ultimately, “Nobody” works because it values scene construction and action choreography above all else, leaving behind pretension and the overplotting that’s been common in the genre in recent years. It doesn’t break any molds so much as present a really good time within a familiar structure. After a year with too few action movies because of the shelving of the blockbuster, “Nobody” gives viewers an adrenalin rush that almost feels new again.
Only in theaters tomorrow, March 26th.
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