Much like Elijah Wood before him, actor Daniel Radcliffe is carving out a respectable indie career since parting ways with his own major Hollywood film series. His latest venture is the New Zealand action comedy Guns Akimbo, set in the near future where an underground fight club known as ‘Skizm’ has amassed an alarmingly large online following via live-streaming. Computer programmer and online troll Miles Lee Harris (Radcliffe) find himself as an unwilling contestant with guns bolted to his hands when a criminal kingpin forces him go up against the game’s deadliest killer Nix (Samara Weaving).
Online culture can be pretty toxic, often bringing out the worst in people and when you combine that with addiction, you get something pretty horrific, which the film explores and parodies well. We’re presented with a world where the convenience of live-streaming has gone catastrophically wrong, the key ingredient in this ultra-modern gladiator sport. However, between all the visual chaos, there’s a really cheap quality to the film despite the modest budget. It’s often too silly for its own good, yet there’s a mean spirited edge that undercuts some of the comedy. With a very thin story, characters range from mildly likeable to outright obnoxious; although, it’s clearly a means to an end, which is the relentless and digitally enhanced gun-play that keeps the film moving, and deliver by far the most enjoyable sequences. Imagine if John Wick was on cocaine. Daniel Radcliff and Samara Weaving both turn in solid performances as the film’s duelling leads, whilst the supporting cast are on the lesser end of ordinary, many sporting fake American accents that are painfully obvious. Our villains, who certainly look the part, are more or less video game characters. Maybe that’s the point, but they’re not the least bit interesting or fun.
Guns Akimbo is in the midst of controversy due to some very unprofessional conduct recently from director Jason Lei Howden, and while the collective online shunning has been swift, it’s important to remember that many people worked hard to bring this film to cinema screens. I’m sure this orgy of action will win many fans, but I think it’s focus might be too narrow, especially for those who aren’t gamers …or trolls? Nevertheless, Guns Akimbo is never boring, it’s just not as well executed and interesting as it should have been, given its heightened premise.
IN CINEMAS from March 5th on selected screen across Australia through Monster Fest and MadMan Films. www.monsterfest.com.au/events/gunsakimbo-autheatrical/
(2020, dir: Jason Lei Howden)
productions stills and screenshots courtesy of Monster Pictures