Bob Odenkirk, best known for playing a gutter lawyer in Better Call Saul, is not the first name that springs to mind to claim the aggrieved everyman action slot recently vacated by Liam Neeson. But from the opening shot – battered face cross-hatched with scratches, shackled hands effortlessly snapping open a Zippo lighter – the question is not the casting, but what took Hollywood so long to weaponise the ineffable coolness of Odenkirk.
He plays Hutch Mansell, a sad sack number-cruncher at his father-in-law’s factory and husband adrift from his distant wife (Connie Nielsen). Snappy editing gives a flick-book summary of the daily disappointments of Hutch’s life and Russian director Ilya Naishuller combines a showily kinetic verve with a crackle of wry humour.
When thieves break into his home, Hutch chooses de-escalation rather than baseball bat retaliation - the right thing to do - but he feels himself diminished in the eyes of his family. The event awakens something within him, but it’s the realisation that the thieves stole his daughter’s kitty-cat bracelet that unleashes a long dormant lust for justice (deployed with knives, guns, grenades, fire extinguishers and his pensioner dad, sprung from the retirement home and armed to the dentures).
Hutch finds a worthy adversary in “connected, funded sociopath” Yulian (Aleksey Serebryakov), a Russian in a shiny suit that looks like it was flayed from a live shark. And if this all sounds a little John Wick-a-like, that’s perhaps to be expected – the films share a writer in Derek Kolstad, Hollywood’s go-to guy for crazy-violent, hyper-adrenalised popcorn thrills. It’s a blast.