Naperville's Bob Odenkirk wasted in repugnant, ultra-violent 'Nobody'

  • Family man Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) turns to violence in "Nobody."

    Family man Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) turns to violence in "Nobody." Courtesy of Universal Pictures

  • Family man Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) turns to violence in "Nobody."

    Family man Hutch (Bob Odenkirk) turns to violence in "Nobody." Courtesy of Universal Pictures

 
 
Updated 3/25/2021 6:21 AM

"Nobody" - ★

Only time will determine if Ilya Naishuller's middle-aged, white male rage fantasy "Nobody" does for Bob Odenkirk what "Die Hard" did for a pudgy, light comic TV actor named Bruce Willis.

 

Odenkirk, a 58-year-old former Naperville resident, pulls off one mean avenger with a physical and attitudinal hard edge never glimpsed in his roles on the series "Breaking Bad" and its spinoff "Better Call Saul."

But Odenkirk's Hutch Mansell is a grim and callous character oozing inhumanity while trapped in a movie with all the warmth, sincerity and internal logic of a "Friday the 13th" sequel.

One night, Hutch surprises two home invaders, one with a gun. Hutch grabs a golf club, but inexplicably puts it down and allows the invaders to escape.

His teen son Blake (Gage Munroe) can't believe how cowardly Dad acted. Hutch's co-workers, the cops and his neighbor (who drives a souped-up 1972 Dodge Charger so you know he must be manly) dub him a wimp. His distant wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) has no reason to end the sexual drought in their marriage.

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So, why doesn't Hutch simply tell his family the noble reason why he dropped the golf club? He originally says, "I wanted to minimize the damage."

But the real reason -- along with a surprise back story -- becomes clear during Hutch's session with a shrink (a convention favored by uncreative screenwriters, here "John Wick" author Derek Kolstad, to easily convey expository information).

Hutch finally becomes so frustrated that he retrieves a service revolver from his house, then boards a late-night city bus where he witnesses some cackling Russian bad boys menacing a young woman.

Hutch dumps his bullets and provokes the thugs to take him on. He nearly kills the punks, crushing the windpipe of one (and mercifully giving the guy a tracheotomy to keep him breathing).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"Nobody" then rapidly deteriorates into a morally compromised action thriller glorifying the thoughtless selfishness of an uncommunicative, bored man too weak to resist the easy allure of violence to bump up his macho self-esteem.

Back home, Becca reverts to an Eisenhower era stand-by-your-man housewife, supporting and (literally) stitching up her stabbed hubby while compliantly going along with his directives, no questions asked.

If that feels outdated, so does the movie's uber-villain, Yulian (Aleksey Serebryakov), another ruthless Russian crime boss, but one so nasty he would never be allowed in a 007 movie.

"Nobody" marks the second movie made by Russian-born, London-raised Naishuller, whose spectacularly irritating 2015 release "Hardcore Harry" presented a thriller seemingly shot in a single take from the hero's point of view.

His "Nobody" is equally gimmicky, a repugnantly ultraviolent exercise in "quality kills" so loaded up on shock effects in lieu of genuine tension and suspense that appearances by Christopher Lloyd (as Hutch's elderly dad) and RZA (as Hutch's adoptive brother) barely register.

Odenkirk deserves better. His conflicted character deserves better.

And so do we.

• • •

Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Aleksey Serebryakov

Directed by: Ilya Naishuller

Other: A Universal Pictures release. In theaters. Rated R for language, violence. 92 minutes

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