I’ve wondered for a while now which of the two John Wick directors would go on to have a more productive career: Chad Stahelsku or David Leitch.
Both men collaborated on the first John Wick film after a long career working as stunt coordinators on dozens of blockbusters including The Crow, The Matrix, 300, Captain America and more than I can list here. The pair largely broke off for seperate directing careers (but contributing to each other’s films as stunt coordinators) with Stahelski focusing on the John Wick sequels while Leitch literally focused on… literally everything else.
He’s directed two major blockbusters with Deadpool 2 and Hobbs and Shaw and also directed two standalone action flicks in the vein of his breakout film: Atomic Blonde and Nobody. In truth, I find him to be the much weaker of the two. His approach is far more inconsistent. His post-2014 career has been almost nothing but throwing things at the wall to see what sticks.
I’m not saying Leitch is a bad director necessarily but he is very much a workman in search of a defining masterpiece. His work is all decent but never remarkable.
His newest film just dropped this past March to a relatively large audience of discussion and a nearly $62 million gross. It was one of the only movies open in theaters prior to mass vaccinations being available so the few people who felt comfortable enough to go to theaters made a big deal out of it.
And that discussion isn’t without warrant. Nobody is a decent mid-tier action flick for sure. It’s definitely a movie in the style of more contemporary baby boomer fulfillment fantasies like Taken and The Equalizer.
Nobody tells the story Hutch Mansell, a retired “auditor” who once worked for the government as an assassin who is now trying to get by as an average family man but who is perpetually unhappy. His marriage is cold, his work is dull and his life has become banal. He clearly wants badly to return to his old masculine life as a paid killer but he knows he can’t.
When a poor couple break into his house to steal valuables, Hutch is set down a rabbit hole that will unintentionally get him on the path towards unbottling the violent man he once was when a group of Russian mobsters stumble upon him by chance.
It’s not hard to see what the film is saying about middle age anxiety and masculine insecurity. Nobody is an action film specifically about unleashing the inner warrior who has otherwise been constrained to a life of domestic housework.
So much of that subtext is found SOLELY in actor Bob Odenkirk’s amazing Everyman action hero performance. It’s not surprising he’s a great actor as he’s been a runaway success in shows like Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul. He KILLS as an actor!
Here, Odenkirk is all understated reservation. He acts the heck out of his role and captures the essence of the kind of emotional torment his character represents.
Nobody is not a masterpiece in any regard but neither are some of the other films this is directly competing against. It’s an average 90 minute action movie in most respects thats elevated slightly by a great actor and a director who knows how to shoot action scenes. I’m not sure there’s much here beyond a slightly novel vigilante action flick but I’m sure this will be a lot of people’s favorite Redbox rental this year!