Another play, another end of term. But don’t fret, folks, because I haven’t graduated yet.
These days it’s hard to predict if any other movie will be successfully released alongside the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, Detective Comics – better known as DC – movies or new and cool ensemble features as big budget movies get even bigger become marketing budgets.
It’s unfortunate that many films either slip under the radar or fail to find an audience because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to succeed in the film business. But that’s life, and more than that, that’s Hollywood. Within this landscape exists a genre of films called “sleeper films” – typically great films in the cinema or on the market that generally go unnoticed by the general public.
For 2021, look no further than Ilya Naishuller’s Nobody.
Directed by Naishuller and written by Derek Kolstad, the man behind the John Wick series, Nobody tells the story of Hutch Mansell, played by Bob Odenkirk. Mansell is a suburban father and husband who leads a minimalist life. But that all changes one night when a home invasion goes awry, setting Mansell on a citywide revenge plan that reveals his true self.
From the start it’s incredibly entertaining to watch a man like Odenkirk embark on a quest for action-packed revenge and ignite a kind of hidden passion for getting revenge on another. Such a thing is done with great care though, because overloaded action is never a good thing.
Nobody evolves into a relatively mild dark family comedy as we are drawn into the lives of Mansell and his wife and two children and their everyday lives, simple hobbies and lack of love within their family. It is perfectly prepared for an outside event, or better yet, an outside threat that will push the worldly family to the brink of resilience. A careful structure, combined with an even more careful plot trick, prepares the viewer for the journey that follows.
It might sound odd to praise a movie’s handling of action and stunts, but it’s so easy to screw things up or turn to CGI because gripping action makes for good entertainment.
But do we always have to look beyond entertainment? Action films succeed in delivering high-quality action scenes in which the viewer feels part of the action and is also at risk. Nobody does this exceptionally well, with segments weaving together to not only advance the plot but actually build the character of the film and also the character of Mansell – as he too seems to be part of this frantic ride just like us.
It’s exciting to see a suburban dad running around town using whatever means necessary to make things right, even more so when some cases involve comedic set pieces. That’s perhaps the most interesting aspect of the film – as it’s relatively funny for a film with a fairly dark and somber tone.
It’s difficult to successfully introduce comedy with a darker film, as it can almost seem like an easy way to distract audiences from the substance of the film. However, Naishuller and Kolstad are brilliant in their way of allowing action to rise and settle, and then highlight the comedy of the situations. After all, a suburban dad trying to go out and beat up people is sitcom at its simplest.
Leaving the substance aside for a moment, it’s important to mention how beautifully shot the film is. With Pawel Pogorzelski on board, the cinematographer behind Ari Aster’s hits “Midsommar” and “Hereditary,” there are no bad shots on “Nobody.” Scenes are not only developed for the action, but also for the camera – a symbiotic relationship between stunt and film where the camera plays supreme as the seeing eye.
Pogorzelski is rather innovative with his work, as the bus scene in the film serves as proof – a fantastic scene that’s one of the best choreographed action sequences I’ve seen in a long time – that at the end of it all, “nobody” is nothing less as exceptional.
A unique and captivating slice of action and thrill, Nobody succeeds on so many levels. It’s just a shame it went so under the radar.