Bob Odenkirk transforms into a real action star in “Nobody”

If John Wick was played by Bob Odenkirk, you would get “Nobody.”


For such an intensely thrilling show, actor and comedian Bob Odenkirk never saw much action in “Breaking Bad.” His Saul Goodman sat on the sidelines of the criminal world while Walter White set up bombs in nursing homes and robbed a train. “Nobody” takes a full 180. Odenkirk plays a family man that transforms into a full-blown John Wick archetype.

This new action installment follows an ordinary man with a family of four seeking revenge on the criminals that broke into his home, stole money and his daughter’s prized kitty cat bracelet. If this sounds eerily similar to “John Wick,” that’s because it’s penned by John Wick screenwriter, Derek Kolstad. What adds to the action cacophony is its direction by Ilya Naishuller who gave us the unique first-person action movie “Hardcore Henry.”

The movie was conceptualized after the real-life break-in at Odenkirk’s home. Instead of resorting to violence to defend himself, he decided to talk his way out of the situation, but that only led to regrets.

“Police came, and [the event] left me with feelings of frustration and a feeling of wishing for some vengeance or an ability to strike back,” Odenkirk said in an interview with Fox News. “So I thought that was something I could build this character out of and what I offered to Derek.”

According to an article published by Men’s Health, Odenkirk spent three years training solely for this role.

Self-proclaimed ‘nobody,’ Hutch Mansell, played by Odenkirk, is just like you and me. The most exhilarating part of Hutch’s life: filling out Excel spreadsheets. A movie about a man and his Excel projects wouldn’t be very entertaining so Hutch’s mundane cycle is broken. One late night, two robbers invade the Mansell house. Hutch reacts to this break-in by arming himself with a golf club. Even in an intense moment, the writers are really drilling in the fact that Hutch is boring. After all, he plays golf.  

When confronting the burglars, Hutch doesn’t take a swing at them but attempts to talk his way out of the situation. Out of nowhere his son, Blake tackles one of the robbers and grapples onto one of them. This would be the perfect time to take a swing and defend his family, right? Wrong. Hutch insists that he talks his way out so no one gets hurt but in the end, the thieves escape with Hutch’s cash and Blake is left with a black eye.

After the robbery, everyone is baffled by how Hutch handled the situation. The police officer that arrives after the fact tells Hutch he should have physically defended himself and their next-door neighbor says that he would have “gone to town” with the robbers if he was in Hutch’s shoes.

At breakfast the next morning, Hutch’s wife and son are frustrated and disappointed by the situation. Blake emphasizes how he tackled one of the robbers to the ground and even received a black eye in the process all for nothing. Hutch’s wife gives praise to her son but wishes her husband would have followed in his footsteps.

In that same conversation, Blake mentions that his school assignment to interview a veteran. Hutch volunteers but Blake prefers to talk to his Uncle Charlie because he’s seen “some real action.”

At this point, it seems like Hutch can’t do anything right, (except he could probably help me with my Excel projects for my stats class but even he thinks it’s boring.)  An opportunity arises when the Mansell daughter mentions that her kitty cat bracelet has gone missing and Hutch jumps to the conclusion that this was the robbers’ doing. Money is one thing, but if we learned anything from “Taken,” it’s to never mess with anyone’s daughter.

Hutch arms himself with his dad’s old revolver to get back his daughter’s bracelet and the rest of his family’s respect. An unfortunate series of events string with one another and simply retrieving his daughter’s bracelet somehow turns into violent conflict with a Russian mob.

In a way, I pictured “Nobody” to be similar to “Breaking Bad” but instead of Odenkirk playing Saul Goodman like he actually does, he takes on a Walter White role. In “Breaking Bad,” Walter witnesses his previous business partners surpass him in their careers and proclaims himself as “the most overqualified high school chemistry teacher.” Therefore, getting involved in the drug trade provides money for his family, but more importantly, is a way for Walter to be proud of himself. Hutch calls himself a ‘nobody,’  tired of working his warehouse job. Once he gets revenge, he can finally attain long-awaited respect from his family. Odenkirk’s inclusion piqued my interest, but the parallels to “Breaking Bad” kept my eyes glued to my TV screen.

Although it was interesting to see how the story unfolded one event after the other, what you really want to watch is brutal and well-choreographed action sequences. 

Remember in “John Wick” when Keanu Reeves killed two people with a pencil? Or  when Choi Min-Sik killed two henchmen with a broken toothbrush in “Oldboy?” Those were ridiculous scenes, but at the same time, the choreographers somehow made it work and it’s unlike anything the audience had ever seen before. What I found most enjoyable about “Nobody” is how Hutch is somehow able to use unconventional weapons to defend himself from the people that get in the way, not just once, but in practically every single action sequence. Some of these weapons include but are not limited to stairs, a fanny pack, a tea kettle, a wine glass and that yellow string you pull on a bus to request a stop. You might be wondering how these weapons are implemented, but trust me, it works and it’s a lot of fun. I don’t think I can ever look at a fanny pack the same way ever again.

The action in this movie isn’t solely highlighted by the random weapons or the amount of blood. In some instances, Hutch meticulously sets up traps in a warehouse and uses stealth to his advantage against his enemies. It was hilarious to see Hutch “home alone” these Russian mobsters trying to kill him. 

The music that accompanies all these action scenes is so strange but in a good way. In most of the action movies that I’ve seen, music is performed from an orchestra and increasingly builds up in intensity alongside the action to fulfill a dark and gritty tone. “Nobody” doesn’t take itself too seriously. A lot of the songs that are included in its soundtrack are songs that make me reminisce about all the long road trips I took with my dad as a kid. I loved looking back on the memories I made with all the songs, but at the same time, it was a little bit surprising to see Odenkirk ambushing hitmen to the tune of “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong or “Heartbreaker” by Pat Benatar because not many movies of its kind do that.

Odenkirk’s background originates in comedy. His career as a comedian entered the mainstream with his HBO show “Mr. Show with Bob and David.” Even in the dark “Breaking Bad” and its spin-off “Better Call Saul,” his character, Saul Goodman, is a walking pun (’sall good, man). “Nobody” is no exception to Odenkirk’s comedic background even though the movie’s main draw is its brutal action sequences. It was a bit refreshing to take a break from the violence with a witty line delivered by Odenkirk. What’s more important is that none of the comedy seems forced and is relevant to what is happening at the time.

Seeing Hutch transition from a nobody to a relentless man seeking vengeance is entertaining, to say the least. To some extent, it’s also relatable. Through Odenkirk’s incredible acting, you can feel the sense of regret that Hutch feels after everyone shames him for letting the robbers flee. He wants to redeem himself by returning his daughter’s bracelet and as an audience, we can only cheer as he transforms from nobody into somebody. Although maybe we wouldn’t to the great lengths he does with this ridiculous action, I think we can all see a little bit of ourselves in Hutch.

“Nobody” ends on a cliffhanger and although I am not usually a fan of sequels, I really want to see Odenkirk beating up bad guys with even crazier weapons in another action movie.

“Nobody” is now showing in select theaters and currently available to rent through various streaming services such as Prime Video. Consult CDC Safety Standards before viewing in theaters.

Email Aaron at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @WhatTheFacundo.

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