What if you took 1987’s The Running Man, 1995’s Johnny Mnemonic, 2007’s Shoot ‘Em Up, 2015’s Hardcore Henry and throw in Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe and put them in a blender set to puree? You’d get Guns Akimbo, an absurdly violently crazy, over-the-top action comedy directed by Jason Lei Howden (Deathgasm, The Light Harvester) about a guy with guns bolted to his hands forced to play in an internet streamed kill or be killed show – that’s what you’d get.
And boy is it a blast, literally and figuratively. For those who don’t know what the word akimbo means, it’s a combat technique in which two weapons are used with one in each hand – basically the staple of every John Woo movie in the 90s.
Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a regular guy working as a computer programmer who enjoys trolling online trolls in his spare time. One day after imbibing quite a few adult beverages, he stumbles across an online show that live-streams people who fight to the death called Skizm. Being the keyboard warrior that he is, Miles decides to spend his time insulting the show’s viewers on the online forum. Not the smartest idea when the people who run the show are murderous psychopaths with computer skills of their own.
It doesn’t take long for criminal maniac Riktor (Ned Dennehy) and his goons to find Miles sitting at home in just his bathrobe. Angered by his nasty comments, Riktor forces Miles to participate in Skizm by drugging him, kidnapping him, having guns brutally bolted to Miles’ hands and pitting the pacifist computer programmer against Skizm’s most dangerous player – Nix (Samara Weaving). Oh and for added pressure, they’ve kidnapped his ex-girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) so he better not think about leaving the city or going to the cops. Can this vegetarian, keyboard warrior survive long enough to beat the bad guys, save the girl and convince the world that death as a form of entertainment is wrong? Maybe.
Guns Akimbo is an outrageously silly action-comedy and the acting hits the mark for the style the filmmakers are going for. This movie knows what it is (and what it isn’t) and everyone here delivers the type of performance you’d expect from this outrageous adventure.
Daniel Radcliffe is suitably cast as Miles, the computer programmer who’s involuntarily thrust into the violent world of Skizm. No longer safe behind a computer screen, he must step up and learn to be a warrior for real. With guns painfully bolted to his hands, he’s at a major disadvantage with how he interacts with the world around him. Any tasks requiring manual dexterity are almost impossible creating hilarious and life threatening obstacles for this hero to overcome. Radcliffe perfectly conveys the frustration and physicality this role requires.
Samara Weaving is also suitably cast as the psychopathic killer Nix after showing she can kick ass in 2019’s Ready or Not, which I was a big fan of. While the dialogue isn’t going to win her any awards (she butchers pretty much every one-liner), Weaving nonetheless embodies the physicality and drive of a badass, crazy, gun-tooting killer who must kill one more time in the game of Skizm in order to finally get out. Weaving compliments the ridiculous performance of her co-stars and the vibe of this film well.
Jason Lei Howden has written and directed a violent, high energy film that isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s fast-paced with consistently quick editing that can be disorienting at times, accompanied by a fantastic soundtrack that makes it feel like a music video for the most part. The story is ridiculously unrealistic but let’s be honest, realism isn’t the reason you’re going to watch this. You watch this movie to see people running and being killed in terrible ways and seeing things blow up real nice, which is exactly what you get. There’s no real substance here and if you still watched this film after seeing that crazy trailer then you know what you’re in for. Howden has delivered on all that action expectation and then some.
Despite the crazy plot, flamboyantly bad acting and terrible dialogue, Guns Akimbo proved to be a highly entertaining movie…just as long as you go in expecting a stylized, over-the-top, violent extravaganza that isn’t trying to take itself seriously. If you’re any sort of action fan, particularly of those films I mentioned above, make some time to add a little dual-wielding in your cinematic diet as Guns Akimbo is a must see film for 2020.