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"Maybe you'll end up like me - a hobo with a shotgun."
-- Hobo

Hobo with a Shotgun is a 2011 action film directed by Jason Eisener that serves as an homage to the grindhouse features made famous during the 1970s. As the film's title suggests, this one follows a hobo (Rutger Hauer) who stumbles upon a downtrodden and filth-infested town. He immediately sees all the crime centers around a kingpin called the Drake (Brian Downey) and his two sons, Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman), who terrorize the semi-innocent citizens of the city for their own carnal pleasure. When Slick decides to mess with a young prostitute named Abby (Molly Dunsworth), the hobo manages to save her, effectively putting a price on his own head. As he continues to see the level of filth throughout the city, the hobo takes it upon himself to exact vigilante justice on any criminal he can find. Slowly but surely, he makes his way toward the Drake and his sons, all while continuing to protect Abby from the perils surrounding them.

I have to be honest: when I first heard about this film, I was eagerly surprised and awaited its eventual release. I didn't have a chance to see it during its very limited theatrical run, but it finally hit NetFlix's Instant Watch, so I finally had the opportunity to sit down and give it a view. And as much as I hate to say it, I have to say I wasn't terribly impressed.

Normally, films like this are right up my alley. Anytime you have the chance to make a throwback to film genres of decades past, I'm usually one of the first to line up to see it. Add the fact that Hobo with a Shotgun actually sports an interesting premise - a hobo goes vigilante because he thinks the world's an unsafe place - and you should have the makings of grindhouse gold. It even managed to score some rather respectable reviews (it currently holds a 67% approval rating on the online review aggregate, Still, I just couldn't find a way to get into the film.

For starters, there was plenty to dislike about the film's screenplay. While I wasn't expecting anything brilliant, I thought it would at least be understandable. However, there were moments during the film where I had absolutely no idea what was going on, and that's never a good sign for a film, especially one as visceral as this. There were seemingly important characters that simply appeared without so much as an explanation as to who they were or why they were there. Secondly, the acting was downright atrocious. Again, I'm not saying that I was expecting top-notch performances, but even for a film like this, the actors could've done a little bit more. How much of it was their fault as opposed to the faulty screenplay, I'm not entirely sure, but great actors would find a way to out-perform a bad screenplay's flaws.

Despite all that, the real issue with Hobo with a Shotgun was that it's terribly boring. Despite the constant stream of action and gore, it never really aroused my interest. In his review for the Philadelphia Inquirer, critic Steven Rea stated that "even connoisseurs of the genre...will find the cheesy chopfests and gratuitous gore less than exciting as one urban prosthetics-strewn bloodbath begets the next." I couldn't agree more. Even with the over-the-top violence, there just wasn't anything truly clicking with this one.

Still, if you are a fan of the genre, Hobo with a Shotgun might be worth a chance. To be fair, I am a bit of a harsh critic, so someone who can put aside the absolute terribleness might find a way to enjoy this one a little bit more than I did. However, there's no possible way I could ever give this film my blessing, so take that into consideration if you were contemplating taking this one in.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: F
1.5 Thumbs Down

2011, action, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Hobo with a Shotgun, Jason Eisener, Molly Dunsworth, movie review, Nick Bateman, NR, and more:

Relevant to: HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN + Rutger Hauer