The Mr. Show and Better Call Saul star gets a third act as an action hero courtesy of John Wick screenwriter Derek Kostand
NOBODY (Ilya Naishuller). 92 minutes. Some subtitles. Available as a premium rental on digital and on demand Friday (April 16). Rating: NNNN
When Bob Odenkirk turned up as Papa March in Little Women a couple of years back, you could immediately tell which members of the audience had grown up watching him in Breaking Bad and which of us remembered him from Mr. Show. (We may have snickered.)
See, Odenkirk used to be an acerbic comedic force before Vince Gilligan gave him his magnificent second act, and those of us who loved his earlier, funny work still find it a little unsettling – and kind of miraculous – when he nails a dramatic part without winking to the camera.
Nobody finds a way to let Odenkirk do both, casting him as Hutch Mansell, an unassuming family man whose failure to act during a robbery leads to spectacular violence… though not in the way you might be thinking. This is less of a Death Wish situation and more of a John Wick kind of deal: when Hutch Mansell goes looking for a fight, you are best advised not to give him one. Even if you’re, say, the head of your city’s Russian mob.
Screenwriter Derek Kolstad repurposes the straight-line narrative of his first John Wick script, giving his characters clear goals and credible obstacles, and director Naishuller, who made the ultraviolent first-person-shooter novelty Hardcore Henry, embraces the bloodshed while also adding little touches of humanity among the supporting players. As in every John Wick film, the world grows a little more interesting with everyone we meet; here, somehow, this picture manages to fit Connie Nielsen, Michael Ironside, Christopher Lloyd and RZA into the same universe.
Yes, this is basically a rewrite of the first John Wick, but Odenkirk finds an entirely different way into it – expanding on Hutch’s shadowy backstory with a nuanced performance that sets him completely apart from Keanu Reeves’s clenched assassin. (It also lets us enjoy the explosive retribution rained down on anyone who looks at our hero sideways.)
John Wick genuinely tried to put his violent past behind him, and was sorry it couldn’t stick. This guy? He’s spent years looking for a reason to get back to business, and he’s finally found it.