After his family home is attacked by desperate criminals, Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) throws off his quiet, passive demeanour in favour of his long-buried violent past. In doing so, he clashes with a violent Russian mobster (Aleksei Serebryakov) and puts his wife (Connie Nielsen), his father (Christopher Lloyd), and his half-brother (RZA) in danger...
While 'John Wick' was able to revitalise action movies after being so stale for so long, you have to question why so few copycats have come along after it.
There's a simple reason, of course. It's difficult to pull it off, and you're automatically inviting comparisons. 'Nobody' shares common DNA with 'John Wick'. For one, it's got the same screenwriter in Derek Kolstad. David Leitch, one-half of the directing duo behind the first 'John Wick', is one of the producers on this. It's also about a man skilled in violence putting away those skills and trying to lead a quiet life but is drawn back to it. The difference here is that Bob Odenkirk's understated "auditor" is given every available chance to walk away. When his house is broken into at the start of the movie, he lets them go and when he goes to confront them later, he realises that they're just desperate people. He only steps into action, so to speak, when douchebag Russian criminals decide to harass someone on a bus. In fact, he wants them to do it. This is the key differentiator between 'John Wick' and 'Nobody'. Where old Johnny W. is reluctant the entire time and is stabbing people with pencils out of desperation, Bob Odenkirk's character is doing it because he enjoys it.
On that basis, it's kind of hard to commiserate with the character because they're making the bad choice every time. Of course, if a movie was made up of people making good choices every time, it'd make for a pretty boring story. Far and away, the weakest part of 'Nobody' is its story. Derek Kolstad is basically flipping over a few story beats from 'John Wick', giving a polish to one or two parts, and pushing this out as new work. As mentioned, this then immediately invites comparison and, naturally, comes up short against it.
That said, Bob Odenkirk's greatest skill in this is how unassuming he is. We're meant to completely doubt him, because he doesn't look physically intimidating in the slightest. Of course, when he starts knifing people repeatedly, blasting his way through a safe house, and turning a factory into his own private death palace, the incongruity is played up for laughs. The same goes for his elderly father, played by Christopher Lloyd. Odenkirk flings himself full force into the action and is more than equal to the task. It's engaging stuff, and director Ilya Naishuller knows how to pace and cut a scene to make it work, probably taking a few pointers from producer David Leitch in the process.
Despite the well-executed action, and a cast that are more than up for the challenge, 'Nobody' never quite knows where it's at. The comedic moments are there, but it's always just a little underwhelming and Odenkirk never really gets the chance to show off his comedic chops. Sure, the humour is in a guy who looks and sounds like him beating twelve shades of shit out of people, but we know he's capable of more. Likewise, the story and the script may be generic and reheated from hundreds of revenge fantasy action movies, but why not make that part of it instead of just going over it again?
'Nobody' is a decent action-comedy, but it could have been so much better than just adequate.