Nobody movie recommendation because YEAH! I mean. Look. I know that THiNC. is all about crazy mind-benders, and total mindjobs. But sometimes, a great blow’em up movie is just what the doctor ordered, and that is what we have for you today. Nobody. And you know what’s so great about it? All the deep and thoughtful movie review sites are just eviscerating it. Which just makes me happy to bring it to you today. Why? Because there is a whole lot more going on in this movie than originally meets the eye. (And if you want to match my vibe while you read?? Have this playing on a loop in the background.)
I mean, just look at the holiness that is this trailer…
Nobody tells the story of a family man, Hutch Mansell. His life is one endless stream of, day after day after day, endless monotonous gelatinous nothingness. Monday – “take out the trash,” coffee, work, spreadsheets, bed; Tuesday, coffee, commute, work, spreadsheets, dinner, bed……. that is until the day two people break into his home. Wait, what? Yeah, two low-level thieves break in. They steal a couple bucks and a few mindless trinkets lying around. Hutch? Yeah, well, he has the drop on the both of them. But he chooses to do nothing. It’s a seminal moment. It’s a moment that LITERALLY HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE IN THE HISTORY OF CINEMA. Not once. Why? Because, that’s not how Hollywood crafts its movies. You get the drop on someone, you take it. You absolutely destroy them. Golf club -> inserted into cranium. Just how it works.
Random aside – that I promise to circle all the way back …. eventually. I remember heading up to Denver with a few guys (their gender is specifically important), and the topic turned to someone breaking into someone’s house… somn somn somn… no idea why. But with guys, you don’t need a why. The topic of violence, and domestic castle protection will eventually boomerang back for some reason or other. I’m just listening. And there are all these elaborate shotgun anecdotes and just wild fantasies of testosterone and chaos. And from the back of the van, I pipe up. “Um, if someone broke into my house? I’d let them know that I would be their moving service for the day. Let’s do some IKEA shopping… want the big screen TV? I’ll move it to your van. (Why didn’t you bring a bigger van?) Want the fridge? Please tell me you brought a dolly. Xbox? Couch? Okay. But please, let’s get one thing clear. None of this sh*& means anything to me. That’s what insurance is for. I’ll get a new one, works for me. But if you go anywhere near my children or my wife? That’s when all rational thought goes completely out the window. You know those 800 Vikings? The Berserkers? They will absolutely have nothing on me. I’ll light my hair on fire and go completely nuts.” And you know what the guys in the van said? “Remind me to rob your house the next time I’m in the market.” Or something similarly ignorant. And everyone piled on. Fair.
The state of American Men, and their conflict with masculinity is a really weird Bermuda Triangle adventure guaranteed to shipwreck you if you are dying to get super-confused on a topic über quickly. Which is why this movie is just an aperitif on a larger topic that we can’t even really talk about these days. First, though, why is it exactly, that these reviewers are saying so many terrible things about Nobody? How could they possibly dislike a brainless explosion? Let’s review a few of these movie critic’s comments about Nobody:
Vulture: “Nobody is a movie about men who need, who are even secretly hoping for, an excuse to commit violence. They’re suburban men, family men, men who should be beyond such things — but if they had no choice, if their homes or their families were in peril, well, who could blame them? When Hutch Mansell (Bob Odenkirk) opts not to fight back when his house gets broken into by armed intruders, everyone around him shakes their heads in barely disguised contempt at his perceived weakness, but also at the perceived waste. “Did you even take a swing?” one of the cops who responds to the call asks when he sees the golf club Hutch had armed himself with. “I wish they’d have picked my place, you know? Could have used the exercise,” his weekend warrior neighbor smirks. Most damning of all is Hutch’s father-in-law Eddie (Michael Ironside), who owns the manufacturing business at which Hutch works, and who says, “I’m thinking you did the best thing you could. I mean, you being you.”
Yet this imaginative perspicacity is overwhelmed by a thudding obliviousness to the implications of the action beyond the confines of the frame, and this hermetic quality seems built in by design—because it turns out to provide the movie with its thematic core. Where are the Mansells’ neighbors during crucial moments of conspicuous catastrophe? Nobody can be trusted, and nobody cares: even when extended barrages of military-grade munitions are resounding throughout the neighborhood, no one bothers to call the police. When—spoiler alert—a house burns down, in a furious conflagration, there’s no fire department on hand to deal with it. The story’s many varieties of carnage never prompt so much as an investigation. A framing device showing Hutch under government interrogation serves solely to mock the procedure.
Slightly muddying the message doesn’t stop Nobody from being a consistently amusing, fast-paced slice of neo-genre entertainment that kind of irresponsibly asserts that violence begetting violence is perfectly fine if it’s set to a killer soundtrack (Pat Benatar!) and represented by a guy who can be funny and tough as leather at the same time. Got it: Tongues firmly in cheeks then.
But what do clichéd points of emasculation—a wife (Connie Nielsen) with a better job who nags about the garbage and isn’t sleeping with him; a muscle car neighbor; a literal bro-in-law whose military history is (on the surface) more impressive than his—mean when that underlying badass is knowingly suppressed? What does it mean when hiding away from the toxicity and violence was a choice—especially one that the film teaches us to root against? We’re trained, alongside the film’s characters, to want to see Hutch return to action just like Keanu Reeves seeking revenge. And, though his motivations are far less than those behind Wick’s vengeance-seeking, there are hints that all it was really ever going to take to push Hutch back into his old ways was a nudge from a nobody.
Wait a second. These reviewers are using massive, polysyllabic words, discussing a brainless action movie? “Clichéd points of emasculation”, “neo-genre entertainment”, “imaginative perspicacity is overwhelmed by a thudding obliviousness”? What is happening here? Glenn Donnar’s book, Troubling Masculinities discusses the topic of action movies and the attempt at resolving male masculinity, or actually the INABILITY to defuse the threat of the “other.”
“The heroes in these movies are unable to heal themselves or restore order, often becoming as destructive as the threats they are supposed to be fighting. Donnar concludes that interrelated anxieties about masculinity and nationhood continue to affect contemporary American cinema and politics. By showing how persistent these cultural fears are, the volume offers an important counter-narrative to this supposedly unprecedented moment in American history.”
Soon, I was lost in a sea of abstracts and doctoral thesii, all discussing the complications of masculinity from a multitude of different perspectives.
Hegemonies and masculinities and heterosexualities? WHAT? Dude. This is an action movie. Pull up.
But this isn’t an action movie. It’s a discourse on the male and his aforementioned Bermuda-triangling relationship with his very confused masculinity. Hutch’s home is broken into by two thieves that we learn later on, are trying to pay for their new baby in the crib in the next room. When these thieves break into his house, Hutch reads the situation, notices there are no bullets in the gun, and chooses inaction. And for the next fifteen minutes, Hutch is belittled by his children, his father-in-law, his coworkers, hell, the entirety of movie viewing audiences… he is lit up! Why? Because he failed. He failed to render judgement. Hutch had an opportunity (given to him by his son no less) to take one of the thief’s head clean off. The courts would have celebrated him. The news would have heralded him.
This isn’t the real world though. The cops, the fire departments, the legal entities that help protect and secure society? They are all gone in this movie. Hutch is justice. Hutch is the protection his family needs. And he failed them. It was the right choice, and he “failed” them. Why?
Well, we learn later on in the movie that Hutch isn’t sleeping with his wife anymore. He’s over-corrected into a life of completely mundane extraordinarily intentionally. He used to be a cleaner… a hit man. An end of the road choice… because when he arrived, people were going to die. And then one day? He stopped. Why? Because, after granting grace to a horrible person he was supposed to kill… after going back and checking up on him, the guy was living the perfect life of family, love, and joy. Hutch was jealous, and decided he was going to find himself that life too. He lands the most boring job of Excel sheet button pressing, a wife, and two kids and he robots his way through his day… intentionally. Choosing, willfully, a life of peace, as opposed to a life of chaos and death.
Are you seeing it yet? This movie isn’t about Hutch. It’s about you, Mr. Desk Jockey.
Let that sink in for a moment. Your wife won’t sleep with you (or, not as often as you’d like anyway). Your kids think you are a disgrace. Your job is just one endless, unending, repetition of paper cuts to your dying masculinity. At least, that is what Hollywood is telling you anyway. Why? Because you haven’t Rambo’d up, tied a bandana around your head, laced your boots, and fired a rocket launcher at the car next to you during your daily commute lately. (And we wonder why Fed-Ex was shot up this past weekend. No, I’m not going there. Well, actually, I might.)
This isn’t a question about gun rights. I really do not want to go there. It’s a question about the definition of the masculine. Men were originally crafted, shaped and molded, to live a life of wild adventure. This is true. But maybe men are called to something a little different than the idea that Hollywood is shoving into everyone’s minds today. Senseless violence that does nothing to protect from “the other” as Donnar’s book puts it. Worse, it actually serves to craft a terror worse than the original infracting violence.
There is an interesting book that was popular years ago within the Christian universe called Wild at Heart that discusses this larger societal problem. Here are a few quotes from the book that triangulates in on this larger issue that we aren’t talking about, even though we talk about it all the time:
“Every boy, in his journey to become a man, takes an arrow in the center of his heart, in the place of his strength. Because the wound is rarely discussed and even more rarely healed, every man carries a wound. And the wound is nearly always given by his father…. Every man carries a wound. I have never met a man without one. No matter how good your life may have seemed to you, you live in a broken world full of broken people.”
“The experience of coming alive as a man is so rare in our culture right now.”
“A man needs a battle to fight; he needs a place for the warrior in him to come alive and be honored, trained, seasoned. If we can reawaken that fierce quality in a man, hook it up to a higher purpose, release the warrior within, then the boy can grow up and become truly masculine.”
“Every man repeats the sin of Adam, every day. We won’t risk, we won’t fight, and we won’t rescue Eve. We truly are a chip off the old block.”
“Taking a bribe, letting yourself be bought off, accepting flattery in exchange for some sort of loyalty, is sabotage. Refusing to confront an issue because if you keep quiet you’ll get a promotion or be made an elder or keep your job corrupts you down deep.”
“Emasculation happens in marriage as well. Women are often attracted to the wilder side of a man, but once having caught him they settle down to the task of domesticating him. Ironically, if he gives in he’ll resent her for it, and she in turn will wonder where the passion has gone.”
“Truth be told, most of us are faking our way through life. We pick only those battles we are sure to win, only those adventures we are sure to handle, only those beauties we are sure to rescue.”
(It’s a pretty epic book. Is it perfect? No. But it might wreck you in a good way if you choose to read it.) But what is going on here? Eldridge is talking about how men derailed years ago. How society has completely missed the point of men, and their need for adventure, and a higher calling. If you’d like to continue this conversation, I’ll send you my phone number and we can really uncork this one. But do not, DO NOT say that I’m saying where we went wrong was with the abandoning of the ideals of the south, plantations, and the rebel yell. This is a much deeper, spiritual disconnect.
But, for now, Hutch has a decision to make. On the one hand his castle has been wronged. His family slighted. His daughter’s bracelet has been stolen. The kitty bracelet is Hutch’s John-Wick-Puppy. It sends him over the edge. He chooses to exact vengeance. But when he does, he realizes that the criminals were just needy parents and so he stops. On the way home though… riding on his bus… he randomly encounters hell on wheels… and he violently puts an end to it.
You see? His vengeance and idea of Justice had been unleashed, and without a blood sacrifice. And thankfully, he was given a lamb, caught in the thicket. (Abraham/Isaac reference, come on, keep up with me here). He poured out his escalating vengeance on these horrible men. But one of these guys has a very powerful father who was none too happy about his son’s thrashing. The movie takes off like a bottle rocket from there.
Which ponders the question – why? Why did I love this movie so much? Vengeance uncorked? Because justice has not been done in my own particular life. All of the people that cut me off in traffic today. The lack of real connection with my wife. The minor belittlement’s by my boss today. The endless exacerbation’s of insecurities and fears. I want the world to blow up because I can’t make anything right in my own life. It is an escape that gives a false sense of justice. It’s a false solution to the wrong problem. And yet, the world, and how it views men, is completely broken. We, men, are desperately in search for a cosmic-sized purpose. A glorious adventure writ large. But technicolor adventure in blood is just a fake facade that will do nothing for us really. Just like pornography won’t either. (Woah, this guy has gone off the deep end today.) Well, I personally believe that God has called us to a cosmic-sized adventure. Personally, by name. He’s called you to this mind-blowing, vast and enormous adventure with Him.
Sure, Nobody is awesome. The bus fight scene is one for the ages. It’s choreographed like a scene from the Nutcracker (hahahah… caught me off guard.) Yeah, it gets a little cheesy when it heads down the path of Home Alone, but thankfully, it pulls up. But ultimately this is a larger story about you, me, and every other person on the planet, and how we attempt to fill those God-shaped holes in our hearts. Or it’s just about blowing stuff up. One or the other.