Starring: Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey
“You and me are going on a car ride to hell… and you’re riding shotgun.” (Hobo, Hobo With A Shotgun)
Not since Santa Claus Conquers The Martians has a film’s title so clearly summed up its premise. Hobo With A Shotgun is, when all is said and done, the tale of a hobo armed with a shotgun. And it’s brilliant.
Rutger Hauer plays the aforementioned hobo, a nameless tramp with a shopping trolley who wanders from city to city by catching rides on cargo trains. His journey takes him to Hopetown, a rundown district where murderers, drug dealers and prostitutes are in charge and the police are as bent as a three pound note. After trying to save one hooker from abuse and getting a makeshift tattoo carved into his chest for his troubles, the hobo decides it’s time to clean up Hopetown and take out Drake, the dictatorial leader of the ne’er-do-wells. With a shotgun.
It’s a simple plot, and at a whisker over 80 minutes it’s a brief movie, but Hobo With A Shotgun manages to pack in a hell of a lot of action, not to mention controversial and gory moments. If you were trying to play some sort of drinking game where you had to take a shot every time a head, foot, gut or other body part either exploded in a shower of blood or was removed by force, you’d need to have your stomach pumped by the hour mark.
It’s clear the film thrives on this too, throwing in ever-increasingly ridiculous set-ups and more contentious moments to really try and provoke a reaction. Three naked women hitting a man with baseball bats as he’s hung upside-down? Check. A woman having her hand shredded in a lawnmower, then using her bony stump to stab someone else? Yup. An entire schoolbus full of cute children set on fire? Incredibly, it’s in there. And yet somehow, despite how shocking this sounds in words, the whole film is so over-the-top and so blatantly set on trying to offend that it actually isn’t that bad. It’s the Evil Dead situation taken to the nth degree – show something so ridiculously over-the-top and do it consistently enough and it’ll eventually become so absurd it evokes humour rather than offence.
Top marks should go to the legendary Rutger Hauer in the leading role. He manages to get across a character that you’d never want to meet but still feel a great deal of sympathy and admiration for at the same time. Plus he looks cool as fuck with a shotgun.
Many films don’t try to change the world. They don’t want to cure cancer or spread awareness of suffering or make people appreciate their loved ones more. Some films just want to entertain and show the viewer something they’ve never seen before in any other movie. Hobo With A Shotgun does this time and time again, and as a result what it lacks in subtlety it makes up with shocks and laughs by the shopping trolley-load.