I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Features Editor
Step aside, Mr. Wick. There’s a new butt-kicking pain guzzler in town, and his name is Hutch Mansell.
Although the name doesn’t ring as strong as Keanu Reeves’s short-fused anti-hero, Bob Odenkirk’s self-proclaimed “Nobody” character packs enough heat and gritty bravado to make this high-octane action vehicle rev a lean, mean machine.
Nobody hails from Hardcore Henry director Ilya Naishuller, who, like the John Wick filmmakers, keeps from this flawed thinking that viewers appreciate visual confusion. The camera remains steady, so it looks like Odenkirk takes every punch and delivers them, too. Perhaps best known for his comedic chops, the Emmy-winning actor strips away all of what we may know him for to embody this Nobody completely. Naishuller and Odenkirk prove to be a winning duo of entertaining chaos.
In the film, Odenkirk’s Hutch Mansell is an underestimated and often overlooked father and husband. He does his best to stand firm amid the repetitiveness of life and the expectations that come with being the man of the household. Hutch is put to the ultimate test when a pair of thieves break into his suburban home one night. Rather than turn to violence, Hutch is perfectly willing to allow the criminals to take what they need and get out. However, this comes with disappointing results, primarily through Hutch’s teenage son (Gage Munroe) and wife (an underused Connie Nielsen).
With all that air collecting in Hutch’s rage balloon, it’s time for him to let it out. And he does so by awakening his long-dormant skills and instincts to jump back on the brutal path. Except Hutch doesn’t have a special hotel and coins to keep him alive. He can hold his own, but Naishuller doesn’t make him some invincible badass. Hutch sheds blood and lots of it. His body kisses enough bullets, glass windows, and knuckle sandwiches to make you think he hopped reels from a Jeremy Saulnier film. He starts hilariously rusty but gains momentum along the way.
The confidence that Odenkirk puts forward in Hutch is what makes this movie killer-fun. The way he smiles at the promise of a car chase is absolutely to die for. Odenkirk isn’t cracking wise or going for his usual funny bone pokes. The humor is almost entirely situational. It’s the idea of a seemingly regular Joe taking on everything and everyone. Even when he’s inches away from death, Hutch is game, and it keeps the audience leaning in.
As mentioned, the world isn’t as vast as the Wickiverse. Hutch is just trying to reclaim his dignity, and he winds up throwing arms at the wrong people. That said, this is what sets Nobody apart. The framework (of a longtime bruiser leaving behind his dirty work in pursuit of peace only to get dragged back in) is there. But Nobody is more no nonsense about its narrative. It’s a quick 90 minutes, and it has a guts-and-glory-filled conclusion that’s well worth the price of admission. Let’s just say it involves some unmentioned co-stars serving some lead salads.
Nobody is non-stop carnage and a total blast. Hopefully, they keep the entries coming.
Opens Friday (3/26) in theaters.