Daniel Radcliffe’s post “Harry Potter” career, has been full of unconventional choices and his newest flick is no exception. “Guns Akimbo” is another interesting choice in his career, but doesn’t reach the gonzo levels, nor is it as fun as I had hoped it would be. After being mugged by some “Mad Max” wannabes, the ex-“Harry Potter” star trades his wizarding wands for guns. When he wakes up with both his hands bolted to firearms, he must survive a televised death match called Skizm, out run a trained assassin and save his ex-girlfriend. Filmed with a punk rock hyper kinetic visual style in the tradition of “Crank”. Director Jason Lei Howden knows he is making a movie that is ridiculous and over the top. So why not give us ridiculous and over the top? It feels like he is holding back from crossing the line. “Guns Akimbo” may have some acrobatic camerawork that are technically impressive and he does have some great moments, but Jason Lei Howden’s script is so hollow that it’s hard to care much about everything going on. It’s not that fun, it’s not as gonzo crazy and over the top as it should be. It’s just exhausting and not all that exhilarating. Although it is the perfect film for your midnight madness movie marathon.
You have to give Daniel Radcliffe credit in how he has molded his career, after spending most of his life playing “Harry Potter” in 7 movies. Daniel Radcliffe’s post “Harry Potter” career, has been full of unconventional choices (check out “Horns” and “Imperium”, his best work to date). Radcliffe’s unconventional choices has given him a reputation of a guy who follows his own tastes rather than trying to jump on another mainstream big studio franchise.
His newest film “Guns Akimbo” is another interesting choice, but doesn’t reach the gonzo levels that I had hoped it would. “Guns Akimbo” isn’t completely original, taking inspiration and mashing up films like everything from “Edward Scissorhands” to “Scott Pilgrim” to “Battle Royale” to “Truman Show” and “The Running Man”, with a hyper kinetic style of “Crank”.
Radcliffe plays Miles, a mopey coder who, since his breakup with Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), has found pleasure in little but getting drunk and getting into a verbal feud with online trolls. He’s taunting the fans of an odious new phenomenon called Skizm, in which viewers watch real world death matches conducted on the streets of Shrapnel City. After getting into it within the Skizm chat room, they bite back. The site’s operators, a crew of Road Warrior rejects led by the face-tattooed Riktor (Ned Dennehy), show up at Miles’ apartment and knock him out.
When Miles awakens, he has both his hands attached to firearms as he has steel bolts pierced through his palms and fingers. He’s only got fifty rounds of ammunition in each gun, with no reloads and he is told he’ll have to fend off Skizm’s star assassin, a fury called Nix (Weaving) while trying to save his ex-girlfriend who is being held captive.
Daniel Radcliffe plays mild-mannered extremely well, and he brings the only fun the film has, showcasing how he has to accomplish everyday things with two guns as hands. Seeing Radcliffe with guns bolted to his hands is a striking image well exploited by director Jason Lei Howden. While Radcliffe brings the only fun felt throughout the movie. Rising star Samara Weaving (“Ready Or Not”) sports a bleached eyebrows and metal capped teeth. She is the assassin Nix, who is a maniacal villain, constantly snorting cocaine off her pistols and sporting a body count in the hundreds.
While Miles’ only gets just 50 rounds each and no reloading. Nix seems to get a whole new arsenal every time she reappears. These are weapons, like: bazookas and rotary Gatling gun. It seems as though she was picking them up out of nowhere or at the local bodega. Which is just another problem I had with the movie, other than no sense of fun or of pushing things over the limit. Director Jason Lei Howden knows he is making a movie that is ridiculous and over the top. So why not give us ridiculous and over the top? It feels like he is holding back from crossing the line.
Howden also leaves us with no stakes involved, with Nix and Miles both taking loads of bullet wounds over the ninety-minute running time and only suffering from the effects when convenient to the plot. While I get it’s the point of the movie to be outlandish and what Howden is set out to do. The trouble is that we’ve just watched Nix kill a dozen hardened criminals without breaking a sweat.
Nix even does some John Woo style action in a car chase and gunfight while she had a hoodie fully obscuring her eyes. So the idea that the physically hopeless Miles can dodge her first shots, then evade her again, then keep up that miracle for an hour, is so beyond eye rolling, that it makes continuing to invest in the action a challenge.
“Guns Akimbo” may have some acrobatic camerawork that are technically impressive but Jason Lei Howden’s script is so hollow that it’s hard to care much about everything going on. Howden really wants to say something and has observations about the internet streaming culture, wrongdoings on the dark web, and the bloodsport culture as a form of entertainment entertainment. It has been said in better films by smarter people.
“Guns Akimbo” will probably be best enjoyed by gamers, and now that we are living in a streaming world. A release on streaming would make more sense, so it could be seen by more people. Directors Neveldine and Taylor, directors of “Crank”, have their particular hyperactive sense of action and comedy. Watching “Guns Akimbo” stand in the shadow of the “Crank” films only shows how weirdly special they were at that point in mainstream history.
“Guns Akimbo” is neither weird or special, while some may consider it as a Saturday morning cartoon for the criminally insane. If you’ve seen the trailers for “Guns Akimbo”, you know exactly what your getting into. Expect no more or no less. It certainly has a decent amount of action, although chaotic. It’s not fun, it’s not gonzo crazy and over the top. It’s just exhausting and not exhilarating. It’s that perfect film for a midnight madness movie marathon, where you’ll probably watch once and never again.
GRADE: ★1/2☆☆☆☆ (1 & 1/2 out of 5)