I was looking forward to Nobody. There’s nothing better than a down and dirty action thriller. It’s strange how these films are getting the hype that they are getting. They are B-Movies with a budget. Back in the day, these kinds of films were straight video/DVD in the late 90s, early 2000s.
Here is a link to an audio version
They usually starred Mark Dacascos and were usually pretty solid. In the mid-noughties, they got a bit of a budget behind them, had Jet-Li or Jason Statham in them, sometimes both. But then they seemed to fall out of fashion. Gritty reboot became the big thing.
That was until John Wick came along.
The first John Wick was absolutely 100% acceptable. The second threatened to be interesting but never followed through. While the third was dull. Casting Mark Dacascos served as a reminder that these films need not be so po-faced.
Nobody was a film I was looking forward to.
Bob Odenkirk is a bit of a comedy hero. He helped nurture the likes of Tim and Eric, ushering in the golden age of Adult Swim. Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul proved that he was what it takes when it comes to drama. Now Nobody shows that he has the physique.
Nobody has the same writer as John Wick. I enjoyed the world-building/lore behind those films. Did this take place in a shared universe? It had the same director as Hardcore Henry. It was an interesting experiment. I was interested to see what he could come up with. Something less gimmicky. Nobody was also getting a decent buzz from reviewers I follow, so there were hopes for this film.
Let’s get on to the good about this film, first of all, the action was well done, nothing extraordinary, just solid. Bill Odenkirk acquitted himself well in both the dramatic and action scenes. You get a sense of his frustration and this impotent rage bubbling below the surface.
The film kind of flirts with a repugnant main character with a “fake because”. We are supposed to believe the hero is motivated by retrieving his daughter’s missing bracelet. This could have been played really well if there was a bit of sarcasm involved. But as it is, it feels like it is played entirely straight. If it played around with this idea, it could have really elevated itself.
That’s all the good there is.
Nobody felt like a series of scenes together, as in there was no cause and effect. The break-in was just a random break-in. They could have cut out the whole home invasion sub-plot and not missed anything.
They didn’t kill off the mentor character. The family weren’t taken hostage either. Nobody avoided the cliche, but sometimes cliche is a cliche for a reason: because it works. Because of the choices the filmmakers made, there are no stakes going into the final confrontation.
The main villain is introduced way too late. He never feels like a threat to the hero or anyone around him. Yes, he gets the prerequisite “kill an underling” moment. But if the storytellers can indulge that cliche, why not kill the mentor/take the family hostage?
The music choices killed me. They were so freaking on the nose. Let’s all agree to the following. If you use The Impossible Dream by Andy Williams as chaos and carnage ensue in slow motion, you’re naff.
What are you saying?
There is a “death of my kitten speech” where the hero describes how he came to quit the life. The retelling of the story had some stylish flourishes. As I was watching, I remember thinking that this would have been a cool scene if I was in any way invested in the story. But I wasn’t, so it wasn’t.
In the fight scene on the bus, as stylish as it was, the main character comes across as a psychopath. It was a well put together scene, but they lost me here. If you’ve seen the film answer me this, what had the group of dudes done to deserve it exactly? I don’t mind if the hero was a secret psycho, but it was not established. It comes out of the blue, especially as we saw in the previous scene he showed mercy. If they made the bad guys more of a threat, then it could have worked. It would have been fine if it was the point the filmmakers were trying to make, but it felt like it wasn’t.
No clear point
Having no clear point is what brought this film down. Nobody never seemed clear about what it was trying to say. For that reason, it’s hard to invest in the story. At times you get vibes of A History of Violence with more goons. There are even elements of Jarhead in there too. As in a hero who is the ultimate badass but never got to use his skills. These are all exciting avenues to explore.
The problem with Nobody is it didn’t pick, it didn’t commit. Because it didn’t commit, I couldn’t either. It seemed like the writer, and the director weren’t aligned. It felt like the director wanted to make a slick action film. Whereas the writer wanted to make a film about the last hurrah of a frustrated chump. Does the hero want the respect of his son or to rekindle the passion with his wife? It could not make its mind up. And because of that, we got neither of neither.
Overall this film was a wasted opportunity. Again, it would have been cooler if there was even a glimmer of emotional investment. Something to latch onto, but it gave me nothing. Instead, action scene after action scene, all I was thinking was, this would be great if I cared.
But I didn’t.
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