DNX Film | Nobody: Better than John Wick, and wickedly fun too

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Hannah A. Papasin
Writer. Critic. Professor. She started writing since primary school and now has two published textbooks on communication. A film buff, she's a Communication, Media Literacy and Journalism Professor of the University of St. La Salle-Bacolod, and has a Master's Degree in English.

How often do we have second winds after 50?

Liam Neeson has kickstarted the trope when he starred in the well-loved Taken, chasing down and bringing down man half his age as wronged father with a lethal past.

The retired assassin/badass/samurai-or-whatever-else-it-is trope has done to death, some with some degree of success like the aforementioned Neeson and of course Keanu Reeves as John Wick avenging his dog with a pencil.

Enter Bob Odenkirk, the Kevin Costner doppelganger, who broke through mainstream consciousness by starring as scene-stealing criminal criminal lawyer, Saul Goodman.  In fact, Odenkirk made Saul such a popular character that he was given a spinoff, Better Call Saul.

Capitalizing on that, creators of John Wick specifically writer Derek Kolstad tapped the newly-famous Odenkirk for Nobody, an action-comedy that plays its action straight (think Jackie Chan movies), about a man brought out of retirement over a seemingly small slight.

Film starts in media res, with Odenkirk character in an apparent interrogation room being asked who he is.  Cue title cut: NOBODY.

Cut to generic mundane montage of our main character Hutch Mansell doing such a humdrum routine it is enough to send that certain Narrator to create 10 Tyler Durdens.

Until of course, a home invasion when Mansell’s home was robbed by what turned out to be a desperate couple with a sick baby.  Stricken by guilt and deprived of a chance for revenge, Mansell instead vented his ire on a group of thugs that bunked on his bus and threatened to rape a girl.

Mayhem ensues when it was learned that one of the thugs turned out to be little brother to a notorious Russian kingpin who is all out for blood (natch) after learning what Mansell did to said li’l bro.  Turns out, Mansell’s past is more than what he bargained for.

Russians. Gold bars. Assassin out of retirement. 

So John Wick. A tired trope.

But it was made fresh by the realism of it all.  Mansell is an ageing assassin and it shows – he is slower than his adversaries, some twice his size and half his age.  And it shows.  He trips, bangs his face against railings.  No invincible superhero here.  But he is no less lethal.

Odenkirk was said to have trained for TWO straight years so he could play the role of Mansell effectively and it shows.  There is swift lethality to his movements, faster and more graceful than Neeson and he could seriously give Neo, I mean John Wick a run for his money.

And the Odenkirk is perfect, just perfect for the role of the supposed everyman who is anything but ordinary.

Another revelation of course is Christopher Lloyd cast against type as a seemingly doddering father kept in the nursing home, a former FBI agent who turned out to be as deadly as the son.  He’s a joy to behold, a double shotgun-toting maniac.  The climax in the Mansell’s shop is simply GLORIOUS.

All in all Nobody is one of the most enjoyable assassin-out-of-retirement film. It has all the tropes, all the fun, it is refreshingly self-aware and the lead actor is 10 times more charming than both John Wick and Taken combined.

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