When we meet Hutch Mansell, he’s in a police station, beat up and under suspicion. This couldn’t be more surprising because Mansell is an everyday guy. He shows up for work, shows up for his family, runs through his routine everyday, like clockwork. But when two hapless thieves break into his home one night, he does nothing – actually, he prevents his teenage son from even doing something, and experiences the scorn of his family for not “being a man.” Suddenly, he’s faced with a midlife crisis of epic proportions. Will he enact justice or will he slink back into the everyday?
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul) plays Mansell as normally as possible initially, at least as well as the actor can after going through years of training in various fighting skills! But when Mansell erupts – and the truth of his character and personality comes out, the film explodes into a funny, violent, impassioned exploration of identity, and midlife crises, in a close-up, almost Coen Brothers sort of way. To be fair, this is what would happen if John Wick hadn’t been pushed until he was twenty years older, or if they’d stolen Bryan Mills’ daughter’s kitty cat bracelet instead of his daughter herself.
Mansell will run afoul of Russian mob boss Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksei Serebryakov), accidentally of course. Their collision will bring the lives of Mansell’s father (Christopher Lloyd) and family (Connie Nielsen plays his wife) into the danger zone of violence. Still, this isn’t as much about anyone else — this is about the crisis of Mansell.
I don’t have a particular set of (those kind of) skills, or harbor a secret past, or anything like that. But I did find myself appreciating the script that Derek Kolstad (who wrote the screenplays for the John Wick franchise) puts into the hands of director Ilya Naishuller’s hands. It’s violent with the immediately available tools Mansell finds, with quick quips between characters, but it’s really a study in what it means to be yourself – and to grow older.
Mansell has ‘settled’ for something he thought would make him happy (it didn’t), because he’s tried to be who he thought everyone else wanted him to be (they weren’t happy with it anyway). He has given up the thing he is best at to play a part in a role he wasn’t meant for. He has justified this, and ultimately squelched the talents he had, hiding in plain sight. He has become a nobody by denying the somebody he really is.
How often is this true in our lives? How often do we fail to use our real gifts because we think we’re supposed to be something we’re not, and hide behind the expectations of other people? How often do we deny the God image in us by masking our real selves, afraid that we won’t be accepted for who we really are? How often do we confuse what we’re really meant to do and ignore our call?
I’m not advocating for Hutch Mansell-like chrysalis breaking, but it’s worth considering. You were created individually, uniquely, in the image of Almighty God.
You are SOMEBODY.