The Screen Scene: Nobody

The Screen Scene with Scott Phillips

THE SCREEN SCENE (WRBL) – So, have you seen the new Bob Odenkirk action film? That’s right. You heard me. Bob Odenkirk, who spent years as sleazy Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, is rockin’ his new dad bod in an action film. It’s called Nobody, and it’s the most pleasant movie surprise of 2021.

Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell, a bookkeeper for a business owned by his father-in-law. In a funny, well-observed opening montage sequence, we see Hutch jogging in the morning, catching the bus, typing on his computer at work and coming home to his indifferent wife and kids. The same routine unfolds on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and so on as the video montage speeds up until weeks of drudgery have flown by in a blink. One thing is clear: Hutch is a weary, domesticated dude.

Then on a random night during a random week, the Mansell residence is burglarized. Two suspects in hoods break into his home, looking for cash and valuables. Hutch gets the drop on one of the criminals, but chooses not to cave the suspect’s head in with his golf club. But, the audience gets the vibe that Hutch could’ve done some damage to the intruders … a lot of damage.

Does Hutch have a “special set of skills” that his family doesn’t know about? Does his refusal to aggressively protect his wife and kids ignite a rage in him that he’s been keeping at bay with his boring work-a-day life? Is Hutch itching to be let loose on a group of thugs to work out his mental health issues in a way that society tends to frown upon?

If you’ve seen the trailer, or the movie poster, or if you’ve ever seen a movie before, you know the answer to these questions. Nobody takes unapologetic glee in unleashing its mayhem on the “bad guys.” It’s a low-fi John Wick where the guy who umpires the local tee-ball game takes on the Russian mob.

On paper, Nobody is a dicey proposition. A middle-aged guy snaps and goes on a violent rampage? Sadly, we see that every week on the nightly news as yet another disturbed person turns a gun on his innocent co-workers and members of the public. If you look at the film through that lens, Nobody feels a lot like No Thank You.

The film is clearly aware of the national zeitgeist when it comes to its violence. The tone is over-the-top. It’s not cartoonish in the sense that it’s silly. It just isn’t meant to be taken seriously. I actually found it cathartic watching Hutch put a beat down on groups of Serbian thugs, but maybe there’s something wrong with me. I found myself marveling at the fight choreography and cackling at unexpected developments. Nobody offers a lot of wit to go with its gore.

There’s a long film tradition of middle-aged white guys losing their cool and turning vigilante. From Charles Bronson in the Death Wish franchise to Michael Douglas in Falling Down, regular Joes have been taking the fight to the bad guys for decades. Hutch is ultimately less of a suburban dad than the living embodiment of the old cliché that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

I’m a huge believer in seeing films on the big screen. Having received both of the Moderna vaccines, I can’t wait to get back in a dark cool movie theater this summer. However, Nobody presents a bit of a dilemma when deciding how to see the film. The action scenes are so inventive and well shot that I found myself “rewinding” the film to watch them more than once. However you choose to see Nobody, if you’re an action fan, you can’t miss this film.

Nobody is currently playing in theaters and on Premium VOD.

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