From left, RZA, Bob Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd star in “Nobody.”
From left, RZA, Bob Odenkirk and Christopher Lloyd star in “Nobody.”

Nobody (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 91 min.). Once one realizes this film was written by Derek Kolstad, writer of the first three “John Wick” films, the amount of violence in the film comes as no surprise. However, John Wick was avenging his dog’s death, whereas here, the titular Nobody is embracing violence because he likes it. Part of the film’s success is in making an action star, a la Liam Neeson, out of Bob Odenkirk (TV’s “Better Call Saul”). The director is Ilya Naishuller (“Hardcore Henry,” “I Am Losing Weight”).

The film is told in one long flashback after an opening scene of a banged-up man (Odenkirk) at a desk with what appears to be two police detectives. He takes out a can of tuna, on which he uses a can opener, and then pulls a cat out of his jacket and lets it feed. When asked who he is, he replies, “Nobody.” That is the kind of amusing humor that helps offset the excessive amount of often gratuitous violence that is in the film.

Odenkirk plays family man Hutch Mansell, who has a wife (Connie Nielsen as Becca), a teenaged son (Gage Munroe as Blake) and a younger daughter (Paisley Cadorath as Abby), and works in a tool and die factory owned by his father-in-law (Michael Ironside as Eddie). Hutch’s life is very routine and slightly aggravating, as we are shown his days over three weeks in increasingly quicker flashes. Then comes a Monday evening when two burglars break into Hutch’s home and his son is threatened with a gun, after jumping on the male burglar. Despite holding a golf club, Hutch fails to act against the female burglar, and the two thieves escape with a little cash and his watch. Blake is understandably upset that Hutch did not act when he could have had the upper hand.

Not long after, Abby complains her kitty-cat bracelet is missing and that proves a trigger for Hutch, as he sets out to find the burglars by tracking down a tattoo one had on their wrist. The audience gradually comes to realize that Hutch’s background contains some military-style training, abilities he has been sublimating so he can live an ordinary family lifestyle. Once his inner “beast” is aroused though, the audience learns that he enjoys the violence of his past life and even thirsts for it, as, on the bus ride back from the burglars’ apartment, he takes on five drunken young louts who come aboard after crashing their car and threaten a young woman passenger.

The bus fight sequence is exceptionally well done and as it unfolds, one can almost see Hutch pulling out more and more of his deadly skills. The choreography is by the same team that handled the “Wick” films.

Unbeknownst to Hutch is that one of the men he sends to the hospital is the younger brother of Russian mobster Yulian Kuznetsov (Aleksey Serebryakov of “Leviathan”), who naturally sets out for revenge, but makes the mistake of targeting Hutch’s family at their home. Hutch is captured after taking out five of the eight men who storm his house. Now knowing who his new enemy is, Hutch sets about destroying Yulian’s art collection and the mob’s money cache that Yulian is controlling for a short time. Along the way, Hutch kills dozens of Russian mobsters.

As with the “Wick” films, the fight and shootout scenes are very well done, and the film has undeniable energy, although some of Hutch’s choices seem rather stupid. There is sort of a “Home Alone” element as Hutch sets deadly traps in the tool and die shop for his expected Russian visitors. He also is helped by his nursing home-resident father (a nice turn by Christopher Lloyd of the “Back to the Future” films as war veteran David Mansell) and his  adopted brother (RZA as Harry Mansell) who is mostly a voice on the radio prior to the film’s climax.

Bonus features include two audio commentaries by director Naishuller, one alone and one with star Odenkirk, who also served as a producer and who had the original idea for the film, after experiencing two home burglaries. There are three deleted scenes (4:58), all dealing with a records search on Hutch. One featurette deals with Odenkirk’s training for the role’s physicality (3:52), while another looks at the construction and execution of the four main action sequences: on the bus; the home invasion; the car chase; and the tool and die factory (19:07). Finally, there is a making-of featurette (12:53) that posits the movie as exploring violence as an addiction. Grade: film and extras 3 stars

Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it

Years of Lead: Five Classic Italian Crime Thrillers (Italy, 1973-77, Arrow Video, NR, 3 Blu-ray discs, 479 min.). These five films fall into the subgenre of crime and action films known as Poliziotteschi (pronounced: polittsjot'teski) that emerged in Italy in the late 1960s and reached the height of their popularity in the 1970s. The films are influenced by both 1970s French crime films and gritty 1960s and 1970s American cop and vigilante films. Additionally, the films were made amidst an atmosphere of socio-political turmoil in Italy, called the Years of Lead, that saw the rise of the Italian crime rates and acts of political violence by both far-left and far-right terrorists. The films generally feature graphic and brutal violence, organized crime, car chases, vigilantism, heists, gunfights and corruption among the police, justice systems and government.

The five films here have three general themes. Both “Savage Three” (1975, NR, 84 min.) and “Like Rabid Dogs” (1976, NR, 98 min.) center on a trio of young people who embark on a series of violent crimes mostly for the thrill of it. “Colt .38 Special Squad” (1976, NR, 103 min.) and “Highway Racer” (1977, NR, 101 min.) both deal with the police adopting new technology and/or methods to deal with crime. Finally, “No, The Case Is Happily Resolved” (1973, NR, 97 min.) looks more at the problems of the police bureaucracy and the justice system. The first and fifth films are both directed by Vittorio Salerno, who also was involved in the writing.

Reviews of each film and their bonus features follow.

“Savage Three” is one of several films Joe Dallesandro made in Italy – he also worked on more “artsy” films in France – after appearing in the trilogy of “Flesh,” “Trash” and “Heat” for Andy Warhol and in Paul Morrissey’s “Flesh for Frankenstein” and “Blood for Dracula” from 1968 to 1974. Here he plays Ovidio Mainardi, the leader of the three young men who work at apparently boring jobs at a computer analysis company – back in the day when computers just about took up a whole room – during the day and then go on an escalating crime spree during their off time. Like Hutch in “Nobody,” it seems their enjoyment of violence is their reason d’étre. The other two are Giacomo (Gianfranco De Grassi) and Peppe (Guido De Carli), with Peppe being a Southerner.

Ovidio is married, but his wife Alba (Martine Brochard, also in “No, The Case Is Happily Resolved”) is involved sexually with her boss in hopes of getting a promotion to deputy head physician. Peppe returns home one day to find his apartment overloaded with relatives from the South, and Giacomo is being driven crazy by his neighbors’ arguments and other noises that come through the thin walls of his flat. These elements touch on some of the socio-political aspects of the film: the division and enmity between Northern Italians and Southern Italians; and how overcrowding can lead to violence, which is not so subtlety demonstrated when Ovidio opens the film in a lab and he pushes some rats (they look like white mice, but the subtitles and the director in his interview call them rats) from their narrow slots into one larger section and they promptly attack and kill each other.

The three young men first cause a riot in the stands at a soccer game, then there is a road rage incident during which Ovidio stabs a cement truck driver. This later scene is done in slow motion, set to music rather than sound of the incident. Each attack intensifies, as they next attack a prostitute and her pimp. They then steal a taxi, kill the driver and pick up their next two victims as fares.

Although he is told to stand down a couple of times, the trio are pursued by Commissario (Inspector) Santaga (Enrico Maria Salerno, the director’s brother, also of “No, The Case Is Happily Resolved” and “Dog Day Afternoon”), who has his own violent incident in his past. There is a bit of a cat-and-mouse game between Santaga and Ovidio.

Extras include a 2017 interview with director Salerna, with portions of a separate interview with Brochard weaved in (40:49). Salerno says, like “A Clockwork Orange,” the movie is anti-violence but had to show violence to make its point. He also says the rats’ attacking each other was real. The other extra is a worthwhile 2017 interview with Dallesandro, who talks about his career with Warhol and Morrissey and his days in Italian cinema (40:56). Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2.75 stars

“Like Rabid Dogs” opens in a soccer stadium, but the real action is behind the scenes, as two masked men rob the receipts and shoot and kill a policeman on their way out. The third, female member is the getaway driver. Then a woman, the deceased officer’s pregnant fiancée, leaps to her death from her apartment window. If it’s violence, it must be shown in slow motion and it is. The film, directed and co-written by Mario Imperoli (“Blue Jeans”), then shows some animals being fed at the zoo, while the onlookers complain about being able to afford their own food. There, of course, is a car chase as the trio escapes.

That is not the only social commentary in the film, as the ringleader of the robbery trio is the son of a wealthy and politically influential industrialist. In fact, in one scene on a golf course, dad explains to his son how corruption within the government works for him. The son is Tony Ardenghi (Cesare Barro), who soon becomes a target of investigating Commisario Paolo Muzi (Piero Santi of “Nerone”). Several times, a police higher-up warns Muzi away from investigating Tony.

A hooker is the trio’s next victim – I think the film says she was used by Tony’s father – and Muzi decides to have a co-worker (Paola Senatore as Germana), whom he also is sort-of dating, go undercover as a hooker.

The film features two car chases and lots of nudity and violence. There are some 10 deaths, yet, at times, the film is a bit boring.

Extras include 2013 interviews with cinematographer Romano Albani (his last interview) and film historian Fabio Melelli (38:51) in which Albani says he disliked the film due to its gratuitous violence and the director Imperoli did not really like the script; a 2014 interview with assistant director Claudio Bernabei (32:55); a music sampler with two tracks from the score by Mario Molino (6 min.); and a poster gallery. Grade: film 2 stars; extras 2.75 stars

“Colt .38 Special Squad” opens with a shootout between the police and three suspects. One of the policemen involved is Inspector Vanni (Marcel Bozzuffi), who kills the brother of a crook known as the Marseillaise (Ivan Rassimov). For revenge, the Marseillaise kills Vanni’s wife right before her and Vanni’s young son. Vanni is then given a special squad of four officers, equipped with the non-standard, but supposedly more accurate guns of the title. They also drive motorcycles, which leads to some excellent chase and stunt sequences in the film, which is directed by Massimo Dallamano (the giallo “What Have They Done to Your Daughters?). This was the last film directed by Dallamano, who served as director of photography on “A Fistful of Dollars” and “For a Few Dollars More.”

The stakes are raised when Vanni learns 70 kilos of dynamite have been sold to the Marseillaise and soon briefcase bombs are exploding all over Turin. One is placed in a bus station locker and kills six when it goes off. This is the first of two scenes that show the destructive aftermath of a bombing in graphic detail. The police are told other bombs are planted throughout the city and will be detonated unless a ransom of diamonds is paid.

Extras include the film’s composer, Stelvio Cipriani, doing a brief introduction (45 seconds) and then a 2006 interview (25:41), in which he reveals that singer Grace Jones (“Pull Up to the Bumper,” among other hits) wrote the lyrics for the song she sings in the nightclub scene. There also is a 2006 interview with editor Antonio Sicillano (9:38) and a poster gallery. Grade: film 3 stars; extras 2.5 stars

“Highway Racer,” as the name would imply, features more car chases, including some outstanding stunt work. The story revolves around police detective Marco Palma (Maurizio Merli of “Violent City,” “A Special Cop in Action”), who has a need for speed. He has two crashes early in the film, one with fatal consequences, which leads him to decide to leave the force. However, Maresciallo Tagliaferri (Giancarlo Sbragia of “Anna Karenina,” “Goliath and the Dragon”), the superior of whom Palma is jealous because of his legendary driving skills, comes to Palma with an offer to train him to be a better driver in order to bring down a gang of thieves, led by Jean-Paul Dossena, aka Il Nizzardo (Angelo Infanti of “The Godfather,” “The Count of Monte-Cristo”).

Here the new technique the police use is a souped-up old Ferrari, which Palma uses to infiltrate the robbery gang. The gang’s signature move is to use two identical Citroen cars in order to confuse police pursuit. The film features lots of car chases and stunts, including a chase and crash down Rome’s famous Spanish Steps. There also is a wrong-way chase against traffic that results in a lot of collateral damage.

This was the first of six films Merli made with director Stelvio Massi from 1977 through 1980. Massi also is known for running the camera and electrical department for “A Fistful of Dollars” and directing “Magnum Cop” and “Emergency Squad.” Gino Capone’s screenplay could have served as a template for “The Fast and the Furious” (2001).

Extras include a 2019 interview (19:42) with film historian Robert Curti about the Poliziesco genre, who points out the film’s ending had to be changed due to a stunt driver screwing up the final jump and wrecking the car. The original ending was to have reflected the respect the good drivers on either side of the law have for each other. Curti says 18 cars were destroyed by one stunt driver during the making of the film. There also is a poster gallery. Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 2 stars

“No, The Case Is Happily Resolved” takes on police bureaucracy and a damaged justice system head on, and it has a very clever script by director Vittorio Salerno, based on a story by Augusto Finocchi. The film is about inversions, which Salerno indicates from the start. We see a packed soccer stadium but hear birds. We see a field of reeds next to a lake but hear the soccer game and crowd. Later, a murderer will become the eye witness and the eye witness will become the suspect.

Going back to the sounds of the stadium, we are hearing them next to the lake because a man (Enzo Cerusico of “La Dolce Vita,” “Hercules, Samson & Ulysses” as Fabio Santamaria) is listening to the match while fishing. Suddenly the fisherman hears a woman crying out and the scene shifts to a partially nude woman running for her life. The woman is caught and brutally beaten to death. Fabio arrives on the scene in time to see the killer (Riccardo Cucciolla of “Sacco & Vanzetti,” “Once Upon a Time in America,” “Rapid Dogs” as Professor Eduardo Ranieri), but not to save the girl.

In a panic, Fabio drives off to find a policeman to report the crime too, but the area is remote and when he enters the city, the traffic cop is too busy to listen to him. By that time, Fabio has decided to wait and seem what happens instead of reporting the crime as he should have. It is the first of many stupid mistakes Fabio makes. Meanwhile, the Professor goes to the police and reports the crime as if he were the witness and he describes Fabio as the killer, only holding back Fabio’s license plate number.

When Fabio reads in the newspaper that the suspect’s description fits him, he disposes of the clothing he was wearing and paints his car blue, just digging a deeper future hole for himself. While the police are happy to accept the Professor’s story, one man is not. The man with doubts is Don Peppi, a newspaper reporter played by Enrico Maria Salerno (“The Bird with the Crystal Plumage,” “Execution Squad,” “Savage Three”). Martine Brochard plays Fabio’s wife.

The movie’s only fault is a too-quick reversal ending, which writer-director Vittorio Salerno acknowledges in a 2015 interview (40:36, again with a Brochard interview weaved in) was forced on him by the producers, and since it was his first film, he had no real standing to object. That alternate, original ending (4:02) is included as an extra. Fabio does a lot of voice-over narration of his thoughts throughout the film, an idea that actor Cerusico came up with and wrote the lines himself.

There also is a visual essay by critic Will Webb on “Poliziotteschi: Violence and Justice in the Years of Lead,” covering all five films in the set as well as others (20:17). Finally, there is a poster gallery. Grade: film 3.75 stars; extras 2.75 stars

Wildcat (Paramount, DVD, R, 93 min.). The film tells the tale of two Americans – a female reporter and a male soldier, who have been taken prisoner by Ummah Brotherhood terrorists after their convoy is attacked near Mosul, Iraq. The film is divided into five parts, with the first two devoted to physical and psychological torture. The woman is Khadija Young (Georgina Campbell), while the Marine is Luke White (Luke Benward), who has been shot in the midsection.

Khadija, or Kat, already is in a cell as the film opens from her viewpoint, covered by a cloth bag. When the bag is removed, a man comes in and yanks out her thumbnail. Good cop/bad cop Khalid (Mido Hamada) then enters, offering water and telling her things are okay. However, when he begins questioning her, each time she gives an answer he does not like, he presses down on her newly exposed thumb flesh, causing great pain.

Writer-director Jonathan W. Stokes humanizes Khalid, who talks about his young daughter’s sense of justice and empathy, before she was killed by an American drone strike. He is after security codes and security features of the U.S. Embassy, leading Kat to believe he plans to attack the embassy. She tries to get Luke to give Khalid the same false information as she will, only he is much more vulnerable.

Kat’s actual position seemed a bit unclear to me. She has a journalist badge, but also has an office in the embassy and perhaps a role in the state department. Possibly all three are true. She does prove to be resourceful and has a lot of intel about her captors.

The film is a bit rough to take at the start, but gets better as the characters are flushed out and there is a very good scene near the end that has a bit of action. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 2.75 stars

48 Hrs. (1982, Paramount Presents, Blu-ray, R, 97 min.). While on the subject of cop films, some add comedy through unlikely pairings, such as director/co-writer Walter Hill’s”48 Hrs.,” which stars Nick Nolte (TV’s “Rich Man, Poor Man,” “The Mandalorian”) as San Francisco cop Jack Cates and Eddie Murphy (the two “Coming to America” films) as convict Reggie Hammond. The film has been newly remastered from a 4K film transfer and the packaging includes a foldout image of the theatrical poster and an interior spread with images of key moments.

At the start, Albert Ganz (James Remar of “The Warriors,” TV’s “Black Lightning,” “City on a Hill”) is freed from his prison chain gang by Billy Bear (Sonny Landham of “Predator”), then Cates gets involved in a shootout with the two during a routine investigation. Cates losing his gun, but survives the encounter and then works to free Ganz’s associate Hammond, who is serving the final six months of a three-year sentence. Hammond is released into his custody for 48 hours. A key scene has Hammond, while impersonating a police officer, walk into a redneck bar and intimidate everyone with the sheer force of his personality.

The film comes with a new “Filmmaker Focus,” featuring Hill, and the 1966 animated short, “Space Kid,” which makes an appearance in the film. Grade: film 3.5 stars; extras 2 stars

Another 48 Hrs. (1990, Paramount Presents, Blu-ray, 93 min.). For the sequel, again directed by Walter Hill, Eddie Murphy’s Reggie Hammond is now an ex-con, only his three-year jail term lasted seven years. This time, Nick Nolte’s cop Jack Cates enlists Hammond’s help to take down the Iceman, a ruthless drug lord in the San Francisco Bay area, who may or may not exist. Cates has been charged with manslaughter for killing a man while returning gunfire during a motorcycle chase. This time it is the dead man’s gun that disappears.

Overall, this is a lesser film than the original, relying more on confusing action than a well-thought-out plot.

Again, the film has been newly remastered from a 4K film transfer and the packaging includes a foldout image of the theatrical poster and an interior spread with images of key moments. There is another new “Filmmaker Focus,” featuring Hill. Grade: film 2 stars; extra 1.75 stars

Snoopy Collection (1069-1980, Paramount, 4 Blu-ray discs, G, 315 min.). This four-film theatrical-release collection features the Blu-ray debuts of “Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (And Don’t Come Back!!)” (1980, 75 min.) and “Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown” (1977, 75 min.), as well as the previously released “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” (1969, 85 min.) and “Snoopy, Come Home” *(1972, 80 min.). Who cannot use a little Snoopy and the Peanuts gang in their life? “Snoopy Come Home” marked the on-screen debut of Woodstock. All four films were written by Peanuts creator Charles M. Schultz. The two new-to-Blu-ray featuring the gang camping in the outdoors and traveling to the French countryside. Grade: collection A

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986, Paramount, Blu-ray Steelbook, PG-13, 102 min.). Receiving a limited edition Steelbook release is one of my favorite comedies of all-time. Written and directed by John Hughes, the film stars Matthew Broderick as high schooler Ferris Bueller who decides to do a skip day with his girlfriend Sloane (Mia Sara) and best friend Cameron (Alan Ruck), who then romp through Chicago as signs reading “Save Ferris!” start popping up everywhere. The release carries over six previously-released featurettes. Grade: film 4.5 stars; extras 2.5 stars

Also celebrating its 35th anniversary with a Blu-ray Steelbook is “Pretty in Pink” (1986, Paramount, PG-13, 96 min.), written by John Hughes and directed by Howard Deutch. The wrong-side-of-the-tracks love story stars Molly Ringwald, Andrew McCarthy and Jon Cryer, and features a killer New Wave soundtrack. Completing the trio of Blu-ray Steelbooks is “Some Kind of Wonderful” (1987, Paramount, PG-13, 94 min,), also written by Hughes and directed by Deutch. This time the young stars are Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson and Craig Sheffer in a romantic comedy filled with teen angst. Both contain previously-released bonus material, including the recent “Filmmaker Focus” for “Pretty in Pink.