This was an unusual cinema experience for me. For at least the first twenty minutes of watching Ilya Naishuller’s new film “Nobody”, I was sure that the film was a dud and everything from the dialogue to the stupid plot and barely dimensional characters was flat out disastrous. Then it clicked… it was all on purpose. With the pointedly heinous Schwarznegger-esque one liners, the main character’s irritating children and vanilla pain of a wife, the ridiculous Russian villain with a barely interpretable accent straight out of a late 1960s Bond film and the non-sensical fight sequences, I thought that surely the director and production crew couldn’t be serious. Once I realised that in fact they weren’t, that everybody involved was blatantly taking the piss out of themselves, then this movie became a whole lot of fun.
The plot doesn’t matter a whole lot here; it doesn’t make any sense and its not supposed to. Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) is an ordinary guy, leading an ordinary and boring humdrum life with a wife who sleeps with a wall of pillows between them and a teenage son who thinks he’s a weiner. Or so it seems… When a couple of burglars make off with his angelic little daughter’s Hello Kitty watch, Hutch decides to go and beat up the burglars and ends up somehow taking on a group of obnoxious baddies on a bus and kung-fuing them into the pavement. Turns out, Hutch is actually a retired assassin of the highest degree of skill and deadliness formerly employed by the US government. Unfortunately for Hutch, one of the men on the bus was the younger brother of psychopathic Russian drug lord Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebyakov), and now Hutch has to protect his family and take out the bad guys with the most brutal yet resourceful use of everyday household items since the Joker and his pencil. Oh and Hutch’s sweater wearing father (Christopher Lloyd) who lives in an aged care home comes to help out with a machine gun and flame thrower.
Once you accept that everything is tongue in cheek and that nothing is supposed to be realistic or feasible, it becomes incredibly easy to see the funny side of the whole thing. The tipping point for me was when Hutch decides to completely shatter his secret identity, expose his family and take on the assassins of most of Eastern Europe because his giant eyed daughter’s $5 Hello Kitty watch got stolen. Bob Odenkirk is a master at self deprecating humour, and he delivers his lines only just shy of winking at the camera (a barrage of Russian bad guys with sniper rifles and machetes arrive at his house, Hutch shoves his family down into his state of the art bunker and pauses to growl at them “Don’t call 911”). The fight scenes are sensationally absurd, up there with John Wick if not a little more grisly (you often hear the sound of bones crunching and Hutch himself doesn’t come out unscathed either). Unlike John Wick though, these fight scenes are deliberately pack filled with gags, my favourite being when Kuznetsov and his goons are taking on Hutch in an industrial warehouse, Hutch is hurled up against one of those signs that says “250 days since incident”. He wipes away the 250 and writes 0 there instead.
There’s not really a whole lot to say about a film like this; it’s good, clean, mindless entertainment and gives a nice twist on some of those revenge crazed vigilante stories which take themselves a bit more seriously. Its a surprisingly good parody of the action thriller genre and when the penny drops, its fun to be in on the joke and enjoy the spectacle of the middle aged guy who very nearly got cast as Michael Scott in the US Office take on half of the Russian mafia. “Who am I? I’m nobody…”
By Jock Lehman