Nobody: you are not John Wick

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Photographs courtesy of filmschoolrejects.com

Nobody is an action movie that clearly attempts to follow in the same cinematic footsteps as John Wick and Taken, but it fails to grasp what made those films work. The film just ends up coming off as the fantasy of every middle-class, right-wing gun nut.

The movie opens with our protagonist, played by Bob Odenkirk of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad fame, as a completely anonymous suburbanite living the American nightmare of mediocrity. He has a mid-level accounting job, a median income that is just enough to make ends meet, and a passionless relationship with his wife. The dullness of his daily grind is highlighted in a very well-done sequence that is reminiscent of Groundhog Day. When his home is broken into by a pair of Hispanic men, Odenkirk makes the reasonable decision not to get into a brawl with a pair of home invaders while his family is asleep down the hall. Afterwards, he is looked down upon by everyone – from the police to his wife – as having failed to perform his duties as a man. Following this, a lost bracelet and a brawl with Russian gangsters sets the main plot of the movie into action.

The film clearly, desperately, wants to be John Wick. It hits all the same beats: the mild-mannered protagonist with a past that is more than meets the eye, the seemingly minor trigger that sets the protagonist back on the path of violence and destruction, and even the Russian gangsters. The movie even has Derek Kolstad, who wrote all three John Wick films. Whether John Wick was just the kind of lightning-in-the-bottle that can never be truly recreated or there were outside influences that dragged the movie off the right track, the film just does not measure up to its goal.

More than that, the movie has a deeply problematic message, if one thinks about it for more than a few minutes. The film presents violence as the solution to all of the protagonist’s problems – not just material, but personal, too. His renewed vigor for violence brings the passion back into his marriage, restores his son’s respect for him, and returns his self-confidence. The movie almost outright states that the moment when the protagonist refused to fight those home invaders was the definitive moment when he lost his way. It’s hard not to think of this as the deranged fantasy of every conservative suburban dad who keeps a gun in his nightstand that he’s never used outside of a gun range: the idea that, someday, a pair of intruders will give him the opportunity to assert his masculinity and wash away all the problems of mundane life with a few quick pulls of the trigger.

All in all, 2 out of 5.

Skip it.