Bob Odenkirk's dark action comedy Nobody 'a slickly executed bloodbath'
NOBODY (15, 92 mins) Action/Thriller/Romance. Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Aleksei Serebryakov, RZA, Christopher Lloyd, Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath, Billy MacLellan, Aleksandr Pal. Director: Ilya Naishuller.
SCREENWRITER Derek Kolstad may have a casual disregard for human life, judging by the outrageous body counts in his gratuitously violent films, but he's a sucker for a household pet.
In John Wick, a chronic case of beagle puppy love propels a retired assassin, played by Keanu Reeves, on a balletic revenge mission against a Russian crime lord and his gun-toting goons.
Now in Nobody, the theft of a little girl's treasured kitty cat bracelet enrages a retired government assassin or 'auditor', played with deadpan fervour by Bob Odenkirk, and ignites a turf war with a flamboyant Russian hoodlum and his posse.
Both pictures are hard-boiled to a tried and trusted recipe of breathlessly choreographed fight sequences that rely on slow motion to land the fatal blow.
The tasty extra ingredient in Nobody is Odenkirk, best known as shady lawyer Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad/Better Call Saul, who brings an appealing hangdog weariness and pathos to the role of a mild-mannered family man with a killer past and a burning desire to embrace white picket-fenced suburbia.
Whether he's quietly begging his wife (Connie Nielsen) to give their stagnant marriage another chance – "Remember who we used to be? I do" – or expertly booby-trapping a factory with deadly devices Home Alone-stylee, Odenkirk elevates the pulpy material.
He's the beating heart beneath the wanton carnage.
Russian director Ilya Naishuller wastes little time with formalities, introducing despondent office worker Hutch Mansell (Odenkirk) with a snappy montage that paints the family man as a crushing disappointment to his spouse and children (Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath).
When two armed robbers break into the family home late at night, Hutch freezes in the act of protecting the brood and he weathers greater disappointment in the eyes of his teenage son.
Brother-in-law Charlie (Billy MacLellan) forces Hutch to take possession of a gun – "Keep my sister safe, bro!" – but it's not until little Sammy notices her favourite piece of feline-themed jewellery is missing that the father's blood boils over.
He tracks down the burglars and, on his way home by bus, Hutch protects a terrified female passenger from a drunken gang by savagely beating the thugs.
One of the aggressors, Teddy (Aleksandr Pal), is the younger brother of sadistic Russian mob boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), who vows revenge for the slight against his family.
Nobody is a slickly executed bloodbath that gives us repeated cause to marvel at brilliantly staged fight sequences.
The five-on-one brawl on a bus that sets everything in motion builds momentum and our adrenaline rush with ruthless precision.
Odenkirk convincingly embraces the physicality of his role, while Christopher Lloyd and RZA add gentle comic relief as Hutch's retired FBI agent father and half-brother, who share the predilection for gun play.
The family that slays together, stays together.