Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hobo with a Shotgun (Jason Eisener)

Rutger Hauer as the Hobo.

If you think "Machete" is bloods and guts galore, well, you haven't seen "Hobo with a Shotgun" yet . The film's concept, once merely a fake 'Grindhouse' trailer winner, fully delivers despite of its seemingly limited premise of a homeless man trying to clean the streets of an anarchic town. Initially, when I first laid my eyes upon the said trailer, I thought it was quite imaginative in its idea of creating a gun-toting character out of a hobo, but I thought the man playing the eponymous role in the 2-minute imaginary project (at the time) is too young and fairly unconvincing. This is where great tweaks in characterizations come to play; specifically, this is where Rutger Hauer enters the scene. 

So from being just a film that mainly highlights a man's exploitative exploits of exploding heads and maniacal sadists "Taxi Driver"-style minus the immense psychological baggage, with the help of Rutger Hauer's Clint Eastwood-ish presence, "Hobo with a Shotgun", in a way, transformed into some kind of an all-out urban western with a no name hobo at the crimson spotlight.

At first, I thought that the primary villains in the film were too exaggerated that it borders outright outlandishness even in the standards of 'do-it-all' B-movies. But then I realized, if this is not the way how these actors would act, then how should they? Brian Downey, who played the attention-seeking town kingpin 'The Drake', is a perfect contrast to Rutger Hauer's reserved and laid back Hobo, and so are Nick Bateman and Gregory Smith as the kingpin's sons. I do not know, but in "Machete", when I saw good ol' Steven Seagal as the primary villain, I can't help but notice the dry antagonistic chemistry between him and fellow few-worded Danny Trejo as they both struggle for an unsure, short-lived climax.

"Hobo with a Shotgun", on the other hand, fully capitalizes on how characteristic contrasts (the silent Hobo and the foul-mouthed Drake) help the psychological and emotional drive of the story. Indeed, the dichotomy between Hauer and Downey's character makes the pay-off all the more enthralling to anticipate and we, as audiences, are quite assured that the build-up won't just culminate in a big stare-off contest.

Molly Dunsworth, although how cliched it is to have a 'prostitute with a heart of gold' as the feminine lead, is energetic, boisterous and sweet all at the same time as Abby, the girl who Hobo envisions as a school teacher and tells of metaphorical stories about bears. Oh, and she also has an Ash-like "Groovy" moment in the film and an encouraging speech that is the thing of 'cheese'.

As for the screenplay, there's nothing much to say as it is more concerned about the Hobo's one-liners and doomed soliloquy. Now, if you want to watch a film solely for fun that you can repeatedly watch even if you're brain dead yet with enough adrenaline left, "Hobo with a Shotgun" is pure, razor-edged, brain residue-littered entertainment for you. It is a film conceived from perversion and exists in bad taste, but what you may find out is that it's also surprisingly dramatic and hopeful in a silly and flawed kind of way. Plus, do not expect much explicit sexuality. Yes, the film is violent, profane and rabidly morbid, but it's never gratuitously sexual. And for that, I salute the film.

Indeed, in a reality of a hobo armed with nothing but a rusty old shotgun and some aspirations for idealistic change, sex is not an option. But frankly, judging from the film's overall content of everything bloody red, crushed and dismembered, where would you really put those scenes? Even its bar and club settings aren't really very welcoming to such. What we got instead are harshly-situated innuendos that fit into the film's pumped-up feel but do not really materialize into any pumping scenes. But is that a bad thing?


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