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QuickView: Nobody (2021)

“Everybody dies… some sooner than others.”

Hutch Mansell

With Saul Goodman typically on the receiving end of violence in Better Call Saul, Bob Odenkirk is an unexpected choice for an action hero, particularly as he was nearing 60 when making Nobody. Yet he is perfect as frustrated family man Hutch Mansell who finds himself in conflict with the Russian mob after protecting a stranger. In the lead-up, Nobody portrays but never fully explores the crisis of masculinity Hutch faces when perceived as weak in his son’s eyes, followed by the desire for a violent outlet to reassert himself, dangerously inviting aggression. Penned by the same writer, and with Odenkirk just two years older than Keanu Reeves, John Wick is an obvious parallel — visually Nobody is less stylised than Wick’s world of luxury hitman hotels, but their violence is similarly visceral. Hutch’s victories lie largely in his ability to keep getting back up, no matter how battered and bruised. Like Wick, Hutch is aided by colourful side characters played by veterans like Christopher Lloyd, RZA and Michael Ironside. Nobody is perfectly paced, its crescendo leading to a climax that is perhaps more rousing than such realistic violence ought to be. It is darkly enjoyable, then, and its reception has been warm enough to earn a sequel filming this year.


QuickView: John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (2019)

John Wick Chapter 3 poster

“Nothing’s ever just a conversation with you, John.”


John Wick: Chapter 3 picks up right where Chapter 2 ended, with John excommunicated from the cult-like order of assassins and a $14 million bounty placed on his head. Like its predecessor, the approach is very much more of the same brutal action, though it fixes a few flaws with fights lit more brightly and easier to follow. Parabellum (literally “prepare for war”) briefly moves the action to the middle east — with heavy overtones of the Assassin’s Creed franchise — but this diversion serves to confuse rather than expand the High Table mythos, becoming ultimately redundant as Wick returns to New York. A welcome change is the number of prominent female roles, Halle Berry proving her action chops in a fight I dubbed “revenge of the dogs”. John Wick‘s strength is a po-faced delivery whilst not taking itself seriously (“What do you need?” / “Guns, lots of guns”, says Keanu Reeves, repeating his line from The Matrix two decades earlier). This is a film in which he can ride a horse through the streets of New York whilst battling bikers. Despite this, a sense of familiar repetition is creeping into the series suggesting that we are on the verge of diminishing returns.


QuickView: John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)

John Wick: Chapter 2

“I can assure you that the stories you hear about John Wick, if nothing else, have been watered down.”


Much like The Raid 2, this overlong sequel provides more of the same high-octane action but strives to tell a wider story at the expense of its predecessor’s tight focus. Now the retired hitman is forced back into work to repay a debt, before a double-cross leaves him in the crosshairs of every assassin in New York, leading to a more familiar trail of vengeance. John Wick was a refreshing surprise for its stylised and visceral action. Chapter 2 serves up more of the same, although it is not always successful, like the repetitive and geographically confusing extended sequence in the catacombs of Rome, with visibility reduced to black and blues. John Wick works best as a character focused on single-minded revenge rather than as a cerebral professional, in part because the close quarters violence often veers toward the nasty. The ridiculous codified assassin mythos expands beyond The Continental hotel run by Ian McShane, one of the best additions being a cameo from Peter Serefinewicz as a “sommelier” discussing Wick’s predilections.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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