Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

dir Ilya Naishuller
scr Derek Kolstad
prd Kelly McCormick, David Leitch, Braden Aftergood, Bob Odenkirk, Marc Provissiero
with Bob Odenkirk, Connie Nielsen, Alexey Serebryakov, Christopher Lloyd, RZA, Michael Ironside, Colin Salmon, Billy MacLellan, Gage Munroe, Paisley Cadorath, Araya Mengesha, Humberly Gonzalez, Edsson Morales
release US 26.Mar.21,
UK 9.Jun.21
21/US Universal 1h32

nielsen ironsides salmon

Is it streaming?

rza, odenkirk and lloyd
Inspired by a real event from Bob Odenkirk's life, this enjoyable thriller plays on things that wear people down in their everyday lives. And when violence breaks out, the grisliness has bracing real-life grit. Derek Kolstad's script, meanwhile, has an underworld set-up that strongly echoes his John Wick universe. And in his feature debut, Ilya Naishuller directs with plenty of wit, avoiding bombast for something more interesting.
An average guy in an average town, Hutch (Odenkirk) feels even more demoralised than usual after invaders break into his home and threaten his wife Becca (Nielsen) and kids (Munroe and Cadorath). Needing to do something, he starts looking for the thieves, which leads him down a random rabbit hole of violence. And he has no idea that he's on a collision course with flamboyantly vicious gangster Yulian (Serebryakov). To diffuse the situation, he needs to consult with the Barber (Salmon), an old intelligence service pal. And there's no easy way out of this mess.
Hutch's daily routine is established in a clever opening sequence, revealing things like his low-profile fitness regime, Becca's successful real estate career and the way his teen son dismisses him. After the break-in, he gets patronising advice from Becca's father (Ironside) and brother (MacLellan) at work. Hutch's father (Lloyd) and brother (RZA) know better. Then the script begins hinting at his deep-secret military past, expressed skilfully in the fight choreography centred around a middle-aged man who's past his prime but still has plenty of skills.

Odenkirk brings his expert charming understatement to the performance, which is delivered with impeccable verbal and physical timing. This includes quiet scenes with the terrific Nielsen, as well as superbly visceral action beats. He also narrates his own backstory with a sense of regret that's wry and resonant. Side roles are full of delicious scene-stealing moments, particularly for the gifted likes of Lloyd, RZA and Serebryakov.

There isn't much to this achingly cool film aside from its zippy premise, snappy one-liners ("Don't call 911") and outlandishly grisly violence. Plus rather a lot of car, gun and booby-trap porn. That said, the simple story of a man defending his family, however far that might take him, is easy to engage with, even accompanied by an escalating body-count served with lashings of black humour. There's never any question about where the plot is heading, and few surprises emerge along the way, but it's done enough with flash and style to keep us entertained.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 22.Apr.21

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S

send your review to Shadows... Nobody Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.

© 2021 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall