Devil’s DVD Advocacy: Hobo with a Shotgun
It shouldn’t matter where ideas come from; they are free-floating, shimmering, skittering by like the iridescent eye-worms you see when you close your eyelids too tightly. And they are just as hard to hold onto. So who cares that Hobo With a Shotgun is another in a line of trailer-spoof fodder made whole? Its genesis should not be an immediate indictment against it; let the film speak for itself. (And, for those conspiracy theorists out there, who’s to say that all movies aren’t initially made based on previews and trailers and adjusted and molded based on audience/internet reaction?)
For most of the film, Hobo delivers what it promises: a gritty, gruesome, and grainy shoot ‘em up scored and pockmarked to look like it was snuck out the back door of a 70’s drive-in theater. Rutger Hauer, our titular hobo, rides into an anarchic town aboard a train (is there any other way for a hobo to enter town?), attempting to put his past behind him and move on to greener pastures. Specifically, well-manicured pastures, as the only hint of background we’re given on Hauer is his driven desire to run a lawn care business. Cue the bad guys. And cue the bad haircuts and suits.
The baddies here are garishly clothed, one-dimensional, and – worst of all – Canadian. In case turning ‘about’ into ‘aboot’ wasn’t bad enough, they also enjoy decapitating their witless victims with the aide of a sewer cover, a bit of chain, and a Canuck version of the DeLorean. Suffice it to say, they deserve to die. And who better to take out the trash than our forlorn, good-natured hobo?
Similar to other one-note vigilante films (Death Wish 3, Gran Torino), the story doesn’t matter. Everyone down to the craft services caterer knows what you’re here for: violence and blood. And in that, Hobo more than delivers. As soon as our hero is teamed up with his trusty shotgun (a little late into the flick if you ask me), the blasts and spurts don’t stop. The killing continues, upping the ante by delivering several innovative deaths; then the film takes a turn.
Up to this point the bad guys were clearly defined: stock and generic; dumb yet at the top of the criminal world. As we near the climax a newcomer enters the ring, the ill-named The Plague. Up until their entrance The Plague is never hinted at or whispered about, yet the finale casts them as the main opponent. What happened to the criminals? And what is The Plague? Are they men, robots, or other?
The addition of this new super-villain kills any momentum Hobo built up. The audience for this type of movie wants more shotgun, more blood, and more one-liners; not twin robots speaking in horribly auto-tuned dialects. For these blasphemous mistakes, Hobo With a Shotgun receives 2 grades: pre- and post-Plague.