BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
MAY 1, 2020
“No respawns. No one-ups. No extra lives. I just killed this fucking guy.”— Miles (Daniel Radcliffe)
Welcome to SKIZM, an online televised deathmatch run by a face-tattooed overlord pitting gun-wielding strangers against each other for entertainment. Sounds plausible enough to me. We’re probably only about ten seasons away from “Survivor” doing shit like this.
“Guns Akimbo” is dumb fun. Brimming with video game style (think “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”) and drug-fueled energy (think “Crank”), the film carries a unique freneticism despite being derivative in almost every other facet. What other films this year will have a camera doing barrel rolls to significant effect during action sequences? Visually stunning camera movements are amusing and all, but without talented editors like Luke Haigh and Zaz Montana to develop a discernable pace to the frenzied action, the film would be dead in the water.
Daniel Radcliffe plays Miles, a lowly coder who, in his free time, berates trolls online. When he says the wrong thing to the wrong guy, he ends up waking up with guns bolted, “Home Depot style,” to his hands. How the soundtrack did not include the Twenty-One Pilots song “Guns For Hands” I do not know. Miles’ mission is a deathmatch with the most brutal and popular SKIZM contestant, Nix, played by the super talented Samara Weaving.
Let’s take this moment to bow down to Samara Weaving. I knew she was a scene-stealer in “Ready Or Not,” carrying that entire batshit crazy thriller, but she steals the show here as well. Her performance is balls-to-the-wall insane, but she finds a way to make her character endearing.
With its comedy coming from Radcliffe’s fish-out-of-water trajectory, the visual of Miles trying to do mundane tasks like picking up a phone with guns bolted to his hands, and the always funny Rhys Darby playing a homeless man helping Miles on his way, “Guns Akimbo” works for the most part.
Where it doesn’t work is in its attempt to be unique or to be anything but superficial. You can’t help but think of every film it’s trying to be and every film that’s done it better, as it progresses. Every chance it has to rise above and hold some seriousness, it tosses them away without a second glance like a senseless execution following a police officer trying to help his ailing daughter. Any connection Miles has to other characters rings false, even as he decides to save his ex-girlfriend, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), from the villain, Riktor (Ned Dennehy). There’s a laziness to not trying harder to make people and relationships more meaningful.
Mindless, yet enjoyable, “Guns Akimbo” mainly reaffirms the gift that is Samara Weaving. Most other aspects of the film feel frivolous.
February 28, 2020
Jason Lei Howden
Jason Lei Howden
(for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and brief graphic nudity)
Natasha Liu Bordizzo
Blu-Ray on April 30, 2020