‘Nobody’ doesn’t hold a candle to Wick

BY NEIL MORRIS, CN+R Film Critic
Posted 3/24/21

“Nobody” is the “RED” of “John Wicks.” Indeed, this middle-aged pastiche hews so closely to the Keanu Reeves resurrection vehicle that you periodically ponder whether it was meant as a …

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‘Nobody’ doesn’t hold a candle to Wick

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“Nobody” is the “RED” of “John Wicks.” Indeed, this middle-aged pastiche hews so closely to the Keanu Reeves resurrection vehicle that you periodically ponder whether it was meant as a parody. Better that it would have been, since otherwise the film’s title essentially summarizes its target audience.

Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”) is a middle-aged, mild-mannered everyman stuck in a weekly loop of work, exercise, family dinners and sleep. He forgets to take out the garbage and buy the milk. Hutch and his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) sleep with a bed divider between them, and his kids don’t much respect him either, especially after home invaders attack the clan and Hutch refrains from any violent defense to avoid “complications.” He’s an über-nebbish who is clearly holding something back.

Like John Wick, Hutch snaps once pushed too far by the petulant son of a Russian ganglord and his buddies. As with Wick, the Ruskie — here named Yulian (Aleksei Serebryakov) — pledges violent reprisal. There is a dark past awakened, a muscle car, and even a new pet that captures his fancy — a puppy for Wick, a kitten for Hutch.

Besides originality, what “Nobody” mainly lacks in comparison to its cinematic antecedent is backstory and world building. We glean that Hutch was once a CIA spook of sorts, “the last person you’d want to see at your door.” That is the extent of his clandestine past we learn; from there, we merely left to assume and accept Hutch’s violent bona fides. The same goes for Hutch’s inscrutable partners: a half-brother (RZA) who’s mostly a disembodied voice heard through a hi-fi system, and Hutch’s dad David (played by Christopher Lloyd, adopting the Nick Nolte role from “Angel Has Fallen”), who lounges away at his rest home until brandishing a sawed-off gets the adrenaline pumping again.

Whereas Wick-world was festooned with an elaborate, engrossing milieu of criminals and assassins with their own code and hierarchies, “Nobody” just has bad guys and old good guys, with little connection or elucidation between them. There is a cheeky, even kitchscy undercurrent to “Nobody” that makes it a passable diversion. Unfortunately, that also makes it instantly forgettable.

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