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Film Review: ‘Nobody’

Hutch Mansell is your everyday Joe. An unassuming, regular guy who appears to be stuck in a dead end job and a loveless marriage, almost like he’s just waiting to die. Hutch, it seems is not particularly satisfied with life. He’s ordered around and stuck in the same bland everyday routine, without it seems, any means to escape. Worse still, he doesn’t particularly seem to care. But when his house is burgled, everything changes.

With the help of his son, Hutch seems to have caught the burglars in the act, until his seemingly meek and mild personality intervenes and the burglars are allowed to escape. Hutch, it seems just doesn’t have that killer instinct even when his family is threatened, a fact that is backed up when he manages to track the burglars down the next day, only to forgive them when he sees the conditions they live in and the fact that they have a sick baby.

But when a group of drunks begin to threaten people on the bus he’s riding home on, he simply snaps. What follows is thoroughly ridiculous, yet hugely entertaining. Implausibly, one of the drunks was the younger brother of a Russian mafia boss (don’t they always take the bus?) and when the mafioso sends his goons to Hutch’s house we find out a little more about Hutch’s former self and his true, but hidden identity.

‘Nobody’ is a chaotic tale of vengeance and how we shouldn’t always judge a book by its cover. Hutch is actually something very different to the absolute beast that is awakened by what happens on that bus and you’ll watch on in awe and horror at some of the ultra violence that is perpetrated as the film goes on. A lot of what happens is truly unbelievable and at times a little bit funny as a result, but then isn’t that exactly what action movies are all about? And when you find out that ‘Nobody’ is from the writer of John Wick then a whole lot of stuff just falls into place!

Bob Odenkirk is brilliant as Hutch, selling us the idea that he really is just ‘nobody’ at the start of the film before then spending much of the rest of the time on screen shooting up bad guys like he was born to do it. There are also excellent cameos by Christopher Lloyd as Hutch’s seemingly retirement home-bound father and RZA as Hutch’s former colleague and their final scenes together are an absolute joy to behold!

If you’re looking for a film to test your intellect and maybe force you to ponder the meaning of life, then ‘Nobody’ just isn’t the one for you. However, if you want a rip roaring action thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, quite possibly cheering on Hutch’s every move, then this one couldn’t be further up your street if it tried! And let’s face it, sometimes it’s a blessed relief to just drop the question of what’s believable or educational and just allow yourself to be entertained. I’d definitely recommend that you ride the rollercoaster that is ‘Nobody’.

I give ‘Nobody’

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Film Review: ‘Nowhere Special’

I’ll warn you right now that if you are in possession of a heart, this will be a difficult film to watch! If you’re a parent you’ll be in trouble too. And then you find out that it’s based on real events! ‘Nowhere Special’ is easily one of the saddest films that I’ve ever watched, but it is nothing short of a masterpiece too and I would implore you to watch it, safe in the knowledge it’s likely to stay with you for a while.

John and Michael live in Belfast. John is a single parent, bringing up son Michael after his wife just upped sticks and walked out on them shortly after Michael was born. We’re never given a real reason as to why. Michael though, is perhaps the cutest kid you’ll see all year and he clearly loves his daddy, which given the set up of the film, makes it all the more difficult to cope with. The love they have for each other is very clear right from the start, but as we’re drip fed more information, it becomes apparent that all is not well. Prepare yourselves for tears and what is very much an unhappy and uncertain outcome!

James Norton plays John, a single father and a window cleaner, who struggles every day to protect his young son Michael from the harsh realities that the both of them are faced with. As the film moves on we are slowly allowed into John and Michael’s world as the truth about John’s future becomes clear. It’s obvious from fairly early on that something is wrong, but we’re left guessing as to what exactly that is. Whatever it is, Michael is at the heart of John’s thinking in the matter simply because he isn’t going to be able to be there to protect Michael’s future.

‘Nowhere Special’ is a beautifully crafted film. We focus on the love between a father and son while becoming ever more conscious of the distance that will be cruelly put between them. Because of this, as an audience we almost can’t fail to be affected and wholly invested in the characters. It could be argued that you’ll want to protect Michael just as much as his father does, but ultimately it’s something that none of us will be able to successfully achieve, such is the sadness and inevitability of the situation.

The film deals with a truly horrible and emotive subject matter with a particularly light touch, so that while ‘Nowhere Special’ is a tear jerker, there are never the in-you-face moments designed to elicit tears. The camera may linger on a facial expression or the dialogue may hint at what is going to happen to both John and Michael, but there’s never any outlandish attempt to shock or sadden the viewer. The actual identity of John’s problem is never fully revealed and Michael’s fate is drip fed to us by a series of scenes where he, John and a social worker spend time with unfamiliar characters, who it turns out, are all strangers to John and his son.

I’d thoroughly recommend watching ‘Nowhere Special’ but with the proviso that you prepare yourself for the sadness that ensues. A heart-breaking story, but a simply brilliant film. I’d give ‘Nowhere Special’

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Film Review: Good Boys

Sixth Grade is a tough time for any kid. Hormones are starting to fly around, you’re finding your way in life a little more and seeking independence from your parents, while at the same time still seeking solace under their protective ‘wings’. And all the while, you’re forming friendships that are likely to last at least up until adulthood, if not for the rest of your life. Sixth grade might just be the making of a person.

Such is the situation for Max, Lucas and Thor (The self titled Bean Bag Boys and the heroes of Good Boys), three 6th grade friends living in a smart suburb of an unnamed American city as they prepare for their first ‘kissing party’. Sadly though, their preparation doesn’t go smoothly, leading to a series of misadventures that although often bordering on the ridiculous, are highly entertaining.

‘Good Boys’ is a coming of age adventure with a healthy slice of slapstick thrown in for good measure. Having been invited to their first ever ‘kissing party’ by the school cool kid, Soren, the boys set out to do some research. After all, if you’re heading for a kissing party, you’d better know just how to kiss, right? And Max is smitten with classmate Brixlee and desperate to grab a smooch with her.

So, in the name of research and with no thought whatsoever for privacy, the boys borrow an expensive drone from Max’s dad and set out to film a neighbour kissing her boyfriend. So far, so good…nothing to see here! Surely, nothing can go wrong? But the Bean Bag Boys’ drone experiment in fact goes badly – and oh so predictably – wrong and as a result they inadvertently make enemies of their neighbour Hannah (she of the kissing with the boyfriend) and her friend, Lily. Even though the boys eventually get to their kissing party, they are forced to learn some harsh lessons from their mistakes in the days afterwards. This is often to hilarious effect and although at times the humour is near the knuckle and perhaps a bit silly, I found myself laughing along all the way through.

Writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, known for their work on The Office, deserve great credit for the words that they put in the mouths of babes here, as it’s often brilliantly incongruous and hilariously – and deliberately – inaccurate. Seth Rogen, one of the producers of the film, has clearly had a chunk of input here too. The boys’ take on various aspects of sex and drugs is a hilarious mix of total myth, complete rubbish and dangerous stereotypes which is guaranteed to raise more than the odd chuckle.

In their quest to replace the expensive drone – which is inevitably destroyed – and avoid their now mortal enemies, Hannah and Lily, the Bean Bag Boys find themselves thrust into several dangerous adventures that are navigated with typical pre-teen innocence so that they can reach an out of town mall. But it’s not just these trials and tribulations that make up the coming of age story and as a result of the kissing party the boys learn some things about friendship and each other that they would have never suspected in their previous lives sitting in their ban bag den playing games.

Good Boys is a great, feel-good film. The comedy here is sharp, the characters well written and if at times the twists and turns of the narrative are nothing short of ridiculously unbelievable, it doesn’t matter. Good Boys is one of those films where you’ll need to suspend your sense of reality and just enjoy the action, however daft it might get. Ultimately you’ll want the boys to get the drone, stay friends and keep the feel-good factor…but once all of their escapades are over, will there be a happy ending for Max, Lucas and Thor?

I’d give Good Boys

Rating: 4 out of 5.