Both characters are played by Bob Odenkirk, but an actor isn’t the only similarity between Nobody‘s Hutch Mansell and Better Call Saul‘s Jimmy McGill. Bob Odenkirk was already a renowned comic actor and writer before Saul Goodman came along, but Breaking Bad brought worldwide fame and more career opportunities than Saul has burner phones. Playing Walter White’s crooked lawyer established Odenkirk as a comedy-tinged dramatic actor, and he’s since been cast in a variety of projects from Little Women to Incredibles 2. One place ‘nobody’ expected Bob Odenkirk to pop up, however, was a hard-hitting action thriller in the mold of Taken and John Wick
In Nobody, Bob Odenkirk plays Hutch Mansell – a former “auditor” turned everyday family man. Trained by his father, violence was a way of life for young Hutch, and the CIA soon enlisted his skills to tidy up their messes and clear up loose ends in brutal, off-the-books fashion. Hutch spent his career as a one-man killing machine whose fearsome reputation preceded him, but left the auditor life behind to settle down with his family. When Nobody begins, Hutch is desperately trying to suppress his violent instincts and stave off the onset of mid-life suburban boredom. At odds with his son and distant from his wife, Hutch eventually gives in to his true nature, embarking on a blood-soaked killing spree against local Russian mobsters.
Although their occupations are quite different, Hutch Mansell’s character arc in Nobody broadly follows the same overarching structure as Jimmy McGill’s in Breaking Bad prequel, Better Call Saul. Just as Hutch was inducted into a world of assassination from a young age, Better Call Saul reveals young Jimmy McGill grifting as a full-time con artist, running scams, stealing watches, and getting in trouble with the law. Echoing Hutch’s attempt to go straight, Better Call Saul kicks off with Jimmy striving to carve out a legitimate career as a lawyer. He earns a degree (it doesn’t matter where from!), passes the bar, and lands himself a gig in the postal room of his brother’s highly respected law company. For a long time, Jimmy leads a reasonably normal life, but over the course of Better Call Saul, a mixture of fate and circumstance lure him back into the con life. In the same vein as Hutch Mansell, Jimmy realizes that “Slippin’ Jimmy” the scammer wasn’t just a phase – it’s something he loves, and would inevitably return to sooner or later.
There’s also symmetry in how the respective stories of Jimmy McGill and Hutch Mansell end. In Nobody, the Mansells are perusing a new property after their previous home was left worse for wear by Hutch’s extra-curricular activities. Speaking with the realtor, Hutch’s wife, Becca, inquires about the basement – an clear sign of acceptance that her husband’s shady past isn’t going anywhere. Better Call Saul sees Jimmy McGill come to exactly the same realization. Jimmy actually succeeds in becoming a lawyer, landing a cushy position at Davis and Main, but he willfully sabotages himself because the temptation to be “Slippin’ Jimmy” the con artist is just too strong. As we see in Breaking Bad, Jimmy merges his legal career with his aptitude for conning people – not dissimilar to how Hutch Mansell blends family life with his affinity for killing.
The notion of Bob Odenkirk as an action hero in Nobody caught many by surprise, and given the actor’s previous roles, that’s understandable. Although Odenkirk ultimately dispelled any doubts with a swift wave of his knife, the signs that he would succeed were always there. In Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad, Odenkirk plays a man conflicted between an exciting life of danger and the conventional everyday. Despite the fist-flying acrobatics, that description applies equally to Hutch Mansell.