Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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When a hobo enters a tainted town & goes vigilante, heads roll

Rutger Hauer stars in "Hobo with a Shotgun." (Karim Hussain / Magnet Releasing)
Rutger Hauer stars in "Hobo with a Shotgun." (Karim Hussain / Magnet Releasing)
About the movie
Hobo With a Shotgun
Genre:
Action, Adventure
MPAA rating:
Unrated
Running time:
01:26
Release date:
2011
Rating:
Cast:
Robb Wells; Brian Downey; Jeremy Akerman; Molly Dunsworth; Gregory Smith; David Brunt; Mark A. Owen; Nick Bateman; Michael Ray Fox; Rutger Hauer
Directed by:
Jason Eisener

And the 2011 Academy Award for best title goes to  . . . "Hobo With A Shotgun."

Pretty good retro poster, too, with an evocative painting of grizzled, hobo-ized Rutger Hauer firing a blast from his sawed-off weapon.

This could end up as the definitive image for B-movie icon Hauer, although he'll always be the "The Hitcher" to me.

"Hobo" doesn't quite rise to the level of B-movie. It lives in the dungeon beneath the crawl space in the basement of the "The Hitcher" - typical sequences involve disembowelment, dismemberment and kids burned up in a school bus.

Canadian director Jason Eisener has made "Hobo" as a neo-"grindhouse" movie, but it's not a funny homage to the genre, like "Machete" and the Rodriguez/Tarantino joint venture "Grindhouse."

It's the real thing, almost a replica, all of the lurid, saturated crudity of a cheaply made exploitation movie of the '70s or perhaps early 1980s - that would explain the costumes of the sadistic villains, apparently modeled after Tom Cruise circa "Risky Business."

Hauer has the title role as the tramp who rides the rails into a hellish little fiefdom run by a sociopathic mobster and his two bloodthirsty sons.

It's a Town With No Name, and no morals, your usual hellscape of pawn shops, hookers, drug addicts, roaming pods of violent gangs, disinterested or corrupt cops.

The hobo, who takes a (paternal) interest in a feisty prostitute (Molly Dunsworth), is moved to clean up the place, so he acquires a shotgun and goes about his vigilante business.

Eisener answers the call of the genre - he makes the movie flagrantly and irresp[onsibly violent. He goes over the top of the top, and that should be enough to keep you glued (especially with an 86-minute run time), but I have to say it began to feel like . . . overkill.

"Hobo" does have a fairly awesome Thunderdome-ish finale featuring a couple of creatively armored motorcycle thugs, a great example of what can be achieved with a little money and a lot of imagination.

I'd take the last 10 minutes over the latest Hollywood CGI megabore any day. "Hobo," along with movies like "Kill The Irishman" and "13 Assassins," feels like a gritty response to the brain-deadening FX fakery of the modern shlockbuster. Somebody's going to find the happy medium, and make about a billion dollars.

GARY THOMPSON thompsg@phillynews.com215-854-5992
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