Film Review

Guns Akimbo

Guns Akimbo could be written off as cheap cartoonish thrills or simply whack-job hyperactive splatter without a touch of artistry like some of its type, but the fact remains that it’s actually a really good film from all standpoints and I had a ton of fun with it. Daniel Radcliffe has been doing his best to shed the deeply rooted Harry Potter mythos and pick some genuinely edgy, offbeat scripts (Horns, Swiss Army Man) and this one slam dunks squarely into that niche. In the not too distant, slightly dystopian future a terrorist cell of lunatics operates a gladiatorial games match called Skizm, in which various freaks, degenerates and maladjusted humans fight each other to the death all over an unnamed city (actually a super arbitrary combo of Auckland and Munich) as advanced drone technology catches it all and a vast, unruly community of online users observe over the interwebs. Radcliffe is Miles, a meek, beta computer programmer whose only joy in life is to troll user-boards relentlessly until he makes the wrong comment to the wrong account and finds himself targeted by the CEO of Skizm himself, a deranged, tattooed fiend called Riktor (Ned Dennehy). He’s kidnapped and wakes up with two giant guns *literally* nailed into his hands and turned loose into the death match that is Skizm for his troubles, where frying pan turns to fire but quick as he finds himself hunted by the game’s ruthless reigning champion, a rambunctious goth waif named Nix (Samara Weaving). Being an inexperienced softie he finds himself in quite the predicament until… well I won’t spoil the story but it goes to some fun places. Much of it is Miles furiously cavorting about the city with Nix in hot pursuit as vehicles are annihilated, bystanders are blown to pieces and several thousand rounds of ammo are emptied into everything animate and inanimate set to a thunderous, skeleton reverberating electronic score by Enis Rothoff. The action is frenetic, meticulously choreographed and strikingly brutal especially whenever Weaving, who is wicked here, shows up to pulverize a horde of enemies like some kind of nightmarish hell-shryke who escaped from Hot Topic. Radcliffe spends much of the film in a confused, exasperated daze and sort of just.. bungles his way into escaping each new hurdle, it’s a fun shtick. Dennehy is an actor to watch out for as the villain Riktor. He’s an Irish dude who made a distinct charismatic impression as one of the second tier baddies in Panos Cosmatos’s Mandy, but he’s positively in another orbit here, a rambling, incoherent, cheerfully psychotic animalistic nut job who is just too much fun to watch. This film falls in the category of super duper torqued up stuff like Crank, Smokin Aces and Shoot Em Up that are a ton of fun for the right audience yet many will find to be just too obnoxious and cacophonous for their tastes, which is fine. I enjoyed this a lot, it’s got style for days, momentum like nobody’s business, ruthlessly pitch black humour and even finds a moment for an albeit heavy handed (literally) yet pretty effective nugget of social commentary on toxic internet gaming culture and the poisonous, desensitizing, voyeuristic prism violence is viewed through online. Fun times.

-Nate Hill

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