Do this experiment: Remove Bob Odenkirk from Nobody. And try to see the film again without his presence. Is it actually a good film without its most prominent element? I believe it is, and this is how the film goes past its well-planned advertising campaign in which we simply saw a comedy actor in a role that wasn’t supposed to be his. Nobody is a surprise and not because it delivered an irreverent role. It’s a good film because its narrative works, the story is interesting enough, and it never stops to ask too much questions.
It’s exactly what we look for in an action film. Nevertheless, of course Odenkirk is a great protagonist that checks every concern we once had and addresses them with full confidence. His role is not that physical; it’s more of an emotionally intelligent character who’s supposed to act cold all the time.
Now put him back in the film and watch it again. That is where he deserves to be.
Hutch Mansell lives a very boring life. His weekends are so common that during a summary of his week, they don’t even get mentioned. His kids don’t pay attention to him, and his wife divides the bed. His father lives in a nursing home and doesn’t even recognize the intention of his visits. Boring, dull and sad.
One day, petty thieves break into his home. Due to the noise he wakes up and gets caught by them. But his son helps him and when they get the chance of “hitting back”, Hutch decides not to. His position of being the protector of the household disappears. He goes further down in his spiral of dullness.
But a weird conversation with someone on a radio makes him react. When he goes to investigate the thieves that broke into his home, we start to see the man he hadn’t revealed himself to be before. An encounter in a bus becomes the catalyst for Hutch’s return to the past. Sometimes the lack of clarity and reasons works. In Nobody it’s almost a motivational aspect: you must always wake up to the circumstances!
As I mentioned before, the film never stops to rest and let us think of the events. Its pace is aggressive and very effective because Hutch never stops growing in his own journey of self-discovery. Hutch seems so certain of his acts, you could confuse him with a vigilante of some sorts. However, that would be banal, and we don’t want to question his acts or intentions. We know he will get far, but we don’t understand his boundaries. That constant revelation of character is brilliant.
Sure, Nobody seemed like a safe bet because Odenkirk is undeniably a big deal today in his role in the Netflix show Better Call Saul. But action? The choice was risky and it worked fantastically. The film’s similarity with other films of its subgenre isn’t harmful but some will feel in the presence of the same movie they saw before with a slight twist. Yes, I’m talking about John Wick.
I only have an issue with the constant need for ridiculing Odenkirk’s role. It’s just something I can’t get rid of. We need to stop stereotyping actors just because it seems fun and effective. His atypical presence is the film’s strongest feature, and if Odenkirk were to make a sequel for Nobody, I’m quite sure that resource wouldn’t work again for advertising purposes. But I guess that’s a conversation we’ll have once the sequel is announced.