When the first trailer for the Bob Odenkirk (Little Women) action thriller Nobody first landed, there was little doubt that it would be a good time, not because Odenkirk has never been the focus of such a specific piece of action cinema, but because it was directed by Ilya Naishuller of Hardcore Henry (2015) and was written by the brain behind the John Wick universe, Derek Kolstad. What couldn’t be expected was that after three separate viewings, Nobody continued to reveal layers of complexity. With Nobody available for purchase-to-own, there’s time to enjoy the bone-breaking romp or to dissect its themes at your leisure.
If you’re coming to this home release review without having seen Nobody, I recommend jumping over to the initial theatrical release review. Moving forward, Nobody will be examined with spoilery details.
Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) has a beautiful wife, two kids, and a job at a tool and die shop working with his wife’s family. It’s stable, comfortable, and without a lot of stress. It is, however, filled with monotony — the kind of monotony that can sour within someone as they experience the same thing day-in/day-out, feeling themselves grow inward and away from those they love. All of this unexpectedly comes to a head when two desperate robbers break into Hutch’s home, stealing a few items and hurting his eldest child, Blake (Gage Munroe), due to Hutch’s inaction. Suddenly, that festering itch under his skin turns into a horrible internal scream, begging for him to do something, anything, to destroy Hutch’s constant passivity. With vengeance on his mind, he goes in search of the two people who broke into his home and accidentally stumbles his way into the path of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Alexey Serebryakov). To everyone, Hutch is just a nobody. Trick is, when you’re nobody, you’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.
At the time of this writing, I’ve watched Nobody three times and it holds the #18 spot on my list of favorite films from 2021. The first time, I found it to be a clever and engaging romp within the good-guy-breaks-bad mold we’ve seen before, especially within the original John Wick (2014) film. The second time was during a Twitter Watch Party where my stream kept buffering, so my engagement in the material sputtered from time to time between noticing some intriguing bits I’d latched onto in my first viewing. (If you’re curious, search the #NobodyTime hashtag on Twitter for some of the random musings and interesting thoughts from the various cast, crew, and celebrities who participated in the watch party.) The third time included the commentary track featuring Odenkirk and Naishuller, which, while fascinating for a number of reasons, included a great deal of information available in the bonus features, so it was almost like taking part in an extended pre-recorded conversation of those materials. However, one thing that stuck out is a theme that hadn’t occurred to me during the first two viewings of the film: relapse. Certainly, Nobody can simply be enjoyed as just an action thriller with comedic beats. Except there’s an undercurrent, which I took for a feeling of identity crisis, but which Naishuller presents as relapse of addiction, specifically alcoholism. In the commentary, Naishuller points out three specific moments with this. The first comes when Hutch finds the couple who robbed his home and hit his son. He’s ready to throwdown but changes direction when he realizes that these two are not criminal masterminds, but parents desperate to fund their sick infant’s medical needs. Odenkirk beautifully sells the horror and disappointment Hutch experiences as he pulls the gun on the child, realizes what he’s doing, and flees, only to punch a break wall repeatedly. Hutch was desperate for a fix from his old life, but not only was he about to hurt an innocent, but he realized that helping himself meant hurting others.
The second comes in the bus ride home and where the film takes its turn, revealing that the home invasion was never the catalyst for the story per the marketing, but merely the means of getting Hutch on the bus that puts him on the path to Yulian. Here, Hutch is given the chance to take a big swig of the ultraviolence he’s longed for, truly craved, but remained abstinent from for years. In this scene, he not only unloads on the men who are harassing an innocent female rider, he makes the choice *twice* to combat them. He couldn’t walked away after he was thrown through a side window, but, instead, he pulls himself together, pulls the doors apart with his bare hands, and goes inside to really work over the men. The last comes when Hutch escapes from the trunk of the car. In this scene, Hutch tries to explain his backstory to Araya Mengesha’s Pavel as the man dies. Naishuller describes it as someone who’s overcome addiction talking to someone who hasn’t given it up yet. This entire lens of thinking places a shroud over the entirety of Nobody, darkening an otherwise violent-yet-light comedic thriller as it causes the audience to reexamine why they are rooting for Hutch in the first place. This isn’t John Wick seeking justice for the death of his dog, the final gift from his recently dead wife, the only thing that allowed him to mourn in a healthy manner (something which the films seem to be moving away from thematically). Rather, Hutch chooses over and over again to risk bodily harm, or worse, in order to feel like his old self-destructive self. It’s not that Hutch is a bad guy, it’s that there’s a darkness within him which hasn’t been fed in some time, making every choice to quell that hunger both selfish and ruinous.
This read of Nobody is fascinating, but it’s not the only thing worth noting about the film. If your preferred method of enjoying Nobody is for the stunts, you’re going to love the bonus materials on the home release. The nearly four-minute featurette “Hutch Hits Hard” focuses solely on Odenkirk’s physical training for the role, which goes back to November 2017. This portion includes thoughts from Odenkirk, Nailshuller, and actor/co-fight coordinator Daniel Bernhardt (Atomic Blonde/Birds of Prey/Logan) as they explain just how hard Odenkirk went to prepare for the role even before the film was greenlit into production. Bernhardt was Odenkirk’s trainer from pre-production through shooting, so the two became quite close, making Bernhardt’s running commentary from this featurette through the others particularly fascinating. One thing that Nailshuller notes in this featurette, in the spotlight on the bus fight sequence, and within the joint feature commentary is that Odenkirk was in such fine shape physically and was so comfortable with the stunt team that, had spaced allowed in the bus sequence, he could have easily created a single long-take of five or six connections with the stunt team before cutting. For someone new to this subgenre, that’s undeniably impressive. Thankfully, the bonus features are almost entirely like this, offering engaging nuggets focused on the stunt sequences and the work of the cast and crew that make Nobody memorable. Broken into four segments, there are over 26-minutes of behind-the-scenes material on the major fight sequences. Want to know how Hutch pulled off chucking a car? They walk you through the process from set-up to execution. The home invasion seem a little familiar in aspects? You’ll find out what they are referencing or making their own. Did you enjoy the bit where Hutch wipes off the “last accident” date at Tool & Die? You get to know where that gag came from. This doesn’t even get to the 12+-minute drill down into the character in “Just a Nobody” or the three deleted scenes which present an entirely new substory involving Michael Ironside and Billy MacLeallan, who play Hutch’s in-laws. Seriously, if you dig on Nobody for the stuntwork, these bonus features are going to be your jam. If there’s a negative at all with the bonus features, they don’t explore the needle drops at all. Each one is so specific in their scenes, each one communicating perfectly Hutch internal emotions or thoughts, some kind of spotlight on them would’ve been, by me, appreciated.
The fact that Nobody plays equally as silly romp, an examination of a middle-age identity crisis, or as a thoughtful exploration relapse, speaks volumes for all involved. Nobody certainly doesn’t need to go as hard as it does, both figuratively and literally upping the ante to the point where the audience may not be sure if they should be rooting for Hutch or not. I think we continue to do so no matter which way we perceive the film due to Odenkirk and the rest of the cast. The stunts are inventive and brilliant, the world feels grounded even at its most reality-bending, and the script presents an unnatural-yet-believable world. Thanks to its release on home video, you can enjoy Nobody any time you like.
Nobody Special Features
- Three (3) Deleted Scenes (4:57)
- Hutch Hits Hard: Discover how Bob Odenkirk trained to bring his character “Hutch Mansell” to life. (3:51)
- Breaking Down The Action: A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the film’s explosive set pieces.
- Bus Fight (13:11)
- Home Invasion (4:18)
- Car Chase (3:12)
- Tool & Die (6:01)
- Just a Nobody: A look at the personal beginning of the story for Bob Odenkirk and the unique style and sensibility that director Ilya Naishuller brought to the film. (12:52)
- Feature commentary with actor/producer Bob Odenkirk and director Ilya Naishuller
- Feature commentary with director Ilya Naishuller
Available on digital June 8th, 2021.
Available on 4K UHD, Blu-ray, and DVD June 22nd, 2021.