Shatteringly violent movie is a real thrill
The John Wick movies have created a genre unto itself - and the fans are here for it.
With its elaborate but gritty fight sequences, the Keanu Reeves movies have changed the expectations of what audiences want from an action thriller - and it's not choppy and fast-editing where you can't even follow what's going on on-screen.
The directors behind the Wick movies haven't just spawned two sequels (and another one upcoming) but also went on to do Atomic Blonde and Deadpool 2 for David Leitch and a video game adaptation Ghosts of Tsushima for Chad Stahelski.
And writer Derek Kolstad is now the go-to man if you want your own action franchise, which is what Bob Odenkirk decided to do, tapping the Wick screenwriter to pen Nobody, a movie that punches as fiercely (and as much) as the franchise which inspired it.
Nobody is as visceral and smashing as it ludicrous and bonkers, and it is every bit the flashy and vigorously violent movie you'd expect to match its enormously high body count. Not that you'd be able to count everybody that's been king hit, maimed, exploded and shot when all's said and done.
At least the violence never feels repellent because it is operatic, an intricately choreographed dance in the vein of A Clockwork Orange, just without the bowler hat.
In these types of movies, restraint isn't the point, restraint is boring. And Nobody wants to exhilarate and get those pulses racing.
As everyman Hutch Mansell, Odenkirk is persuasive as the suburban dad drained of his life force by the drudgery of the daily grind - tapping his transport card, missing the bin collection, barely acknowledged by his kids and sleeping next to his wife but with a pillow in between them.
When his family is the victim of a random home invasion, Hutch finds himself frozen, leaving his teenage son to rashly tackle the intruder. Even though he made the smart decision - no one died - Hutch is made to feel less than by his family and his neighbour whose false bravado insists he would have done violence.
But Hutch has a secret, or at least a secret identity under that repressed rage. And that fury has now been unleashed and it knows few bounds.
The home invasion is the instigating incident in the same way that John Wick's dead puppy set him off on a vengeful journey that leaves a blood trail in his wake. Also familiar is the Russian crime lord (Aleksei Serebryakov) who ends up being Hutch's target.
There are several high-impact action sequences, the most ye gods of which involves the tight confines of a public bus and Odenkirk shattering a handful of thugs with little more than his hands, a knife and his environment. This kind of close-quartered combat is always more exciting than any sequence involving laser beams.
Even though the level of violence is outlandish, the abrasive action makes it feel much weightier. Of course, the gun fights come later, but they're never able to match the heart-in-your-throat feeling of that bus scene.
Director Ilya Naishuller worked with stunt co-ordinator Greg Rementer and co-fight co-ordinator Daniel Bernhardt to really sell the mess of the brutal brawl, but it's Odenkirk's seamless transition from downtrodden everyman to badass action superstar that makes this movie work.
There are some fun supporting appearances from Christopher Lloyd and RZA, while Connie Nielsen gets very little to do as Hutch's wife, but this is a movie that belongs to Odenkirk, a previously predominantly comic actor you now know to never, ever cross.
Nobody is in cinemas from Thursday, April 1
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Originally published as Shatteringly violent movie is a real thrill