Directed by: Jason Eisener
Premise: A homeless man (Rutger Hauer) becomes a vigilante.
What Works: Hobo With a Shotgun is the latest in a trend of films that deliberately recall the exploitation pictures of the 1960s and 70s. Like their inspirations, these films feature crime and corruption related storylines, over the top performances, and copious amounts of sex and violence, all presented as a self-conscious joke. For those who can appreciate the cheeky nature of this kind of film, Hobo with a Shotgun mostly delivers the skeevy thrills with a large side of cheese.
What Doesn’t: Unlike a lot of the better examples of this retro-trash fad, such as the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez productions Kill Bill, Grindhouse, and Machete or even the overdone blaxploitation parody Black Dynamite, Hobo with a Shotgun does not have nearly enough fun. As violent as the film is, its scenes of gore don’t have much originality or showmanship and the characters are less than memorable. This film is less like Shaft or Death Wish and more like Combat Shock or Maniac both in its extreme violence but also in its sense of self importance. In order to take it seriously, the film must provide the audience with something of substance that is worth considering. But Hobo with a Shotgun does not have anything to its portrayal of urban blight beyond its premise. Despite its humorous title, Hobo with a Shotgun is very grim. While there is nothing wrong with that, the filmmakers try to have it both ways as they invite the viewer to laugh and howl at the film’s excesses but then want us to take their story a vagrant vigilante seriously when they try to make a social statement. The result is a hodgepodge of violence and pseudo-introspection that comes across disingenuous both as a silly action picture and as a relevant satire.
Bottom Line: Hobo with a Shotgun isn’t absurd enough to be enjoyable as a light action film and there isn’t anything in its characters or themes for the audience can engage with.
Episode: #337 (May 1, 2011)