Supposed ‘Nobody’ Bob Odenkirk Seeks Revenge, and I’m Never Quite Sure Why

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Nobody (CREDIT: Allen Fraser/Universal Pictures)

Starring: Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Christopher Lloyd, RZA, Aleksei Serebryakov, Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath

Director: Ilya Naishuller

Running Time: 92 Minutes

Rating: R for All The Expected Blood and Profanity

Release Date: March 26, 2021

When I saw the trailer for Nobody and was teased by its promise of Bob Odenkirk pushed to the edge to protect his family, I couldn’t resist. This is a guy who’s famous for his nonpareil knack for frustrated bursts of a certain profanity, after all. How has he not been getting cast in some of the secret-badass roles that Liam Neeson’s been hogging the past decade? But then when the movie actually gets going, it makes a very odd decision. During an opening home invasion scene, Odenkirk just … lets the burglars get away with it. It’s strongly implied that that’s actually the safest decision for everyone, but this doesn’t appear to be the mild-mannered-man-goes-rogue story we’ve been promised. Nor does it seem like we have the appropriate setup for a tale of vengeance. What’s the deal?!

Despite what the title and the thoroughly suburban setting assures us, Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) is far from a nobody. He doesn’t have to summon his penchant for violence out of nothing; in fact, he has a history of violence just bubbling under the surface. The film is vague about that backstory, but it’s clear that regardless of how he learned, he knows how to bash heads. But what really flipped my head is the explanation of Hutch’s entire motivation for his spree of mayhem. As it turns out, the thieves took his young daughter’s kitty-cat bracelet Sammy (Paisley Cadorath), and that’s apparently enough to convince him to take on an entire crime organization., even though Sammy doesn’t seem especially bothered by the loss! In fact, none of the shenanigans that Hutch gets up seem to be on behalf of his family. It’s more like it’s just done out of his desire to star in his own outrageous action movie.

And that really sums up the entire m.o. of Nobody. If I were a betting man, I would bet that screenwriter Derek Kolstad and director Ilya Naishuller noticed that Bob Odenkirk had never been showcased in this genre and they decided that they needed to rectify that immediately. Then they mixed in a Russian drug lord, plenty of guns, and a car chase set to Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker,” and they decided that they were good to go. What’s missing from all this? Any sense of logic at all! Now, you may ask, do you need to have logic when Odenkirk’s brother is played by RZA and his dad is a shotgun-toting Christopher Lloyd? Honestly, I think it would’ve helped. But, eh, nobody needs logic, and certainly neither does Nobody.

Nobody is Recommended If You Like: Senseless violence delivered with conviction

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 Kitty Cat Bracelets

This Is a Movie Review: Going in Style

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This review was originally published on News Cult in April 2017.

Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin

Director: Zach Braff

Running Time: 96 Minutes

Rating: April 7, 2017

Release Date: PG-13 for Shooting Blanks in One Way and Not Shooting Blanks in Another

There is a cottage industry of our finest living octogenarian thespians behaving badly, whether living it up in Vegas or spending spring break with their grandkids fishing for tail. Going in Style at first glance appears the next entry in this genre, what with its premise of retirees making their last big mark by pulling off a bank robbery. As these old coots throw on their Rat Pack masks, are we supposed to be thinking, “Somebody’s watched Point Break one too many times”? Not exactly. This is not a tale of wish fulfillment debauchery. Instead, Going in Style takes its opening cue from much more Oscar-friendly territory (as well as the 1979 original of the same name starring George Burns, Art Carney, and Lee Strasberg).

Longtime friends and factory co-workers Joe (Michael Caine), Willie (Morgan Freeman), and Al (Alan Arkin) are facing a variety of ills: foreclosure for Joe, kidney failure for Willie, and disappearing pensions for all three. They do not vocalize a sense of economic betrayal from their country, but the subtext is clear. This is the same message as last year’s neo-Western Hell or High Water: when even the local banks are strictly aligned with the global monied class, robbery is all that those left behind can turn to. Going in Style mostly avoids that bleakness, though not at first. The first 15 minutes or so are all about underscoring the piling up of debt and very real threat of homelessness for decent folks who have put in decades of honest employment.

But with the codgers at its center, a depressing consistency would be truly beyond the pale. The dialogue acknowledges that safety net, as these intrepid thieves figure that even if they do get caught, they will at least be guaranteed a bed, three meals a day, and better health care than they are used to. There is a deep well of fantastic realism, or realistic fantasy, as it were, at play. We know Joe, Willie, and Al will get away with it, and it is essentially a victimless crime. Their temptation into a solution of crime is presented less as a trip to the dark side and more as open-mindedness and ingenuity. But surely the loss of millions cannot be so easily brushed off.

It is probably not necessary to take too harsh a moral stance against Going in Style, as I imagine that its target audience understands that stealing is wrong and heists are not so easily pulled off in real life. But it would be preferable if the film had a more clearly discernible message. Is it advocating for getting what you’re owed by any means necessary, becoming a Robin Hood of sorts, or actually just prescribing robbery in extreme circumstances? As it stands, it is a whimsical wisp propelled along by plenty of capable people that tiptoes around some explosive territory.

Going in Style is Recommended If You Like: Hell or High Water but thought it was missing a dance scene set to “Single Ladies”

Grade: 2.5 out of 5 “Young Men”