Recommendation: The swings here are big, and most of them miss. Some hammy, over the top performances from good actors are fun to behold, but ultimately there isn’t much here. 2/10.
IMDB Synopsis: A guy relies on his newly-acquired gladiator skills to save his ex-girlfriend from kidnappers.
It’s getting rarer and rarer to find films that are doing something different. In the dichotomy era of IP-dominated, big budget films (Marvel, DC, animated sequels) and small, critically acclaimed indies (see: A24, Neon, Fox Searchlight), films that have a fresh take—either stylistically or conceptually—are few and far between. Enter Guns Akimbo. It has a very specific style, and even more specific conceit, and yet… it will have you longing for the anodyne greys a Marvel flick or the gritty realism of Lynne Ramsay thriller. Poor writing, an overactive camera, and a vision of a semi-dystopic future ripped from Hobo with a Shotgun, Guns Akimbo isn’t a pastiche to the hammy, over the top action of the 80s and 90s, but rather a poor imitation.
Meet Miles (Daniel Radcliffe), your classic young, white, soft-in-person, hard-af-online protagonist with a thing for asian girls. In the real world, he’s a beta male, cowering in front of his bro-y boss at a freemium gaming company, and trying to win back his ex-gf Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). But online he’s a master-level troll, anonymously triggering would-be haters and other incels. Until he pisses off the wrong people at Skizm, an underground, fight to the death streaming platform, run by tattooed psychopath Riktor (Ned Dennehy). They break into the mild mannered Miles’ apartment and turn him into an unwilling participant of Skizm, by bolting two handguns to his hands… effectively turning him into Edward pistolhands.
Miles must defeat the top Skizm fighter Nix (Samara Weaving), who is a sociopathic, gun-loving killer, who tracks him down in five minutes. The chase sequence that ensues for the better part of the second act is frenetically paced, jarring to watch, and filled with only a few funny sight gags (one of which played by a homeless Rhys Darby). Amidst all the chaos of Miles running from Nix, Nova is captured by Riktor. Here is where Miles turns from pitiful man to confident savior, in a hero’s journey arc that’s so short you’ll miss it. There’s a lot stuffed into the 100 minute runtime, including a side plot about dirty cops shoehorned in, a clean cop who is the father of Nix, Skizm being an analog for late stage capitalism, and a lot of gunfights.
This isn’t to say that Guns Akimbo is devoid of anything worthwhile. Samara Weaving, and to a lesser extent Daniel Radcliffe, are really hamming it up, clearly having fun playing unhinged characters. In fact, the two great actors elevate what surely would have been an even worse film with no names (in a similar vein to Shoot ‘Em Up). Unfortunately, past the two actors’ performances, there’s little to redeem about Guns Akimbo. The premise is a little schlocky, and the execution on most everything else is sub standard. Unless you’ve watched everything else on Amazon, you can give this one a skip.
Find it here on Amazon.
Highlights: The aforementioned Rhys Darby bit character. Daniel Radcliffe’s continued weird acting choices post-Potter (some good, but not this one). If you like B-movie blood, there’s plenty here.
MVP: Samara Weaving. She’s a blockbuster actor, and she really gives her all in this performance.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Distributor: Saban Films (US) // Release date: Feb 28, 2020