Anchored by a quirky Bob Odenkirk, this is a really entertaining action movie if you like your action brutally violent and darkly comic.
This is the latest entry in what I’m calling the “middle aged men you shouldn’t have messed with” genre. These are violent action thrillers about mild mannered men who are accosted in someway by criminals. Nine times out of ten these criminals are the Russian mob. Little did they know that this mild mannered man is really a highly trained unstoppable killing machine! It started with Taken and Liam Neeson’s very particular set of skills. It expanded with Denzel Washington’s The Equalizer, and it reached its zenith with Keanu Reeves’ John Wick. It’s a power fantasy. A superhero for middle aged men. And when done well it’s a pretty fun time at the movies.
The movie follows Hutch, played by Bob Odenkirk, a man so mild mannered he barely seems awake in the early scenes. He coasts through life in an almost catatonic state. He is distant from his lovely wife Connie Nielsen, and detached from his job. One night a pair of hapless thieves break into his house. Hutch resists the urge to take them both out. This loses him the respect of his son, neighbors, and coworkers who all think a real man should be violent and aggressive in the face of armed intruders. Hutch ends up unleashing years of pent up rage on a group of Russian mobsters. This sets off a war with a psychotic Russian who comes after Hitch and his family.
I loved Bob Odenkirk’s performance in this movie. He is so deeply repressed at the start of this movie that I don’t think he says a word for the first ten-ish minutes. When he finally cuts loose he shows off a quirky off beat personality that really sets him apart from the John Wick’s of the world. He also plays frustrated thinly veiled rage really well. It’s a nice performance.
The action is the real star of the show though, and it’s really good. There’s some really fun fights and a solid car chase sequence that plays out very differently than I expected.
For me there’s a difference between action and violence. Action is Indiana Jones fighting on a truck as in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Violence is a man getting stabbed in the eye with a broken champagne glass repeatedly as happens in this film.
The big set piece of this film is a confrontation on a bus between Hutch and half a dozen mobsters. It is brutally violent. It is messy. It is bone crunching, muscle squishing violence. Hutch isn’t indestructible. He takes a lot of hard hits, and it takes a serious toll on him. It doesn’t have the technical prowess of one those balletic single take scenes like John Wick, but it has a visceral reality that really worked for me.
This brutality is offset by some very funny moments. The film has a twisted sense of humor especially when dealing with the gruesome and macabre. This is t an overly comic movie, but when the jokes come they land because they’re so dark and surprising. If you like dark humor this’ll work for you.
My big issue with the film is the way it celebrates guns and violence. It seems to argue that real men are brutally violent creatures who need to let that violence out every once in a while in order to be whole.
My other issue is how often the filmmakers drop incongruous songs into the action. Guns will start going off and the movie will slow down as a hit song from the 70’s will start playing. It’s a fun bit that works really well until the end when it starts feeling repetitive.
Other than that it’s a solid action movie that I had fun with. I don’t think you need to rush out to see it. It’s violent, it’s funny, Bob Odenkirk is great, it’s everything I was hoping to get out of the movie.
It’s my cup of tea. B+