Upstream review: Bob Odenkirk is finally a movie star at 58 in 'Nobody'

Fred Hawson

Posted at Sep 08 2021 08:53 AM

A scene from 'Nobody'
A scene from 'Nobody'

Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) was a nondescript middle-aged man who lived a humdrum suburban life with his wife Becca (Connie Nielsen) and two kids. One night, two thieves entered their house to steal money. That one-off petty crime would later escalate into a full-blown complicated web of violence that involved the Russian mob led by their flamboyantly bloodthirsty leader Yulian Kuznetskov (Aleksei Serebryakov).

This was an action film cut from the same cloth as the John Wick series, both retired hitmen trying to live normal lives who soon were drawn back into the killing business. The themes of the films felt uncannily similar, and no wonder they were both from the creative mind of writer Derek Kolstad. That said, "Nobody" is still its own special animal -- mainly because of Hutch Mansell's unique personality, thanks to a potent star turn by lead actor Bob Odenkirk.

From his start as a writer on "Saturday Night Live" in the late 1980s, Odenkirk had certainly gone a long way. He wrote, co-starred or guested in several hit comedy television series since then, from "The Larry Sanders Show" to "How I Met Your Mother". His TV career went full blast with his stint as Saul Goodman on "Breaking Bad" (2009–2013), which then led to a still ongoing prequel spin-off Netflix series "Better Call Saul" (since 2015).

As far as films are concerned, Odenkirk's debut was in "Wayne's World 2" (1993) and co-starred in several comedies since then. It was only in the past 10 years, that he had been films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar, namely "Nebraska" (2013), "The Post" (2017) and "Little Women" (2019), all as part of the ensemble. It was a long time coming, but with the success of "Nobody," Odenkirk finally emerged as a full-fledged film star at age 58. 

Russian director Ilya Naishuller had a stylish vision of mixing violence with tongue-in-cheek humor. All those fiery gun battles with various forms of exploding booby traps were choreographed and executed meticulously, and accompanied by classic inspirational songs like "What a Wonderful World," "The Impossible Dream" and "You'll Never Walk Alone." 

There was also a scene-stealing supporting turn by Christopher Lloyd, who played Hutch's elderly father David, who wasn't as invalid as he looked.

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."