GUNS AKIMBO Review – A Bloody, Cult Classic in the Making
Directed by Jason Lei Howden
Written by Jason Lei Howden
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby
Watching Guns Akimbo, it’s almost impossible not to ask yourself, “What is wrong with these people?!” And I mean that as the highest form of compliment. From the film’s first five minutes, down to the end credits, there isn’t a single second to slow down and smell the roses and while the A24 crowd might scoff at that approach, the precision and adoration for the horror and action genres displayed by director Jason Lei Howden speaks volumes on how the film will be received by genre fans.
Following Miles (Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe), a down on his luck video game programmer whose life consists of working on a game designed to rip its players off, spending hours trolling any and every online complainer and still enamored by his ex, Guns Akimbo, right from the bat, does an excellent job of speaking on how we regulate those we disagree with. Miles spends his time arguing with every non-pc troll and when Skizm, a dangerous real-life game of hitmen trying to take each other out, appears, Miles is quick to chime in on how he thinks it’s disgusting. There’s a safe box behind his keyboard and when the people behind the game don’t take kindly to Miles hiding behind his laptop, he soon finds himself with handguns bolted to his hands and placed into the game himself. That might seem spoiler heavy, but trust me, that’s just within the first 15 minutes or so. Radcliffe plays Miles in a way that makes you as a viewer want to smack some sense into him, but also allows Radcliffe to give a comical and relatable performance that you have to love. Miles simply cannot get a break and when Ready or Not’s Samara Weaving is tasked with taking Miles out, all hell breaks loose for the entire running time.
The chemistry between Radcliffe and Weaving is great and there’s such a reverence found in Howden’s appreciation towards the horror and action genres, that Guns Akimbo never comes off like an ADHD mess. The fast-paced approach works so well for the film and while it’s very 2020, the film also feels like it could have played alongside Die Hard, Commando and Dead Alive all at the same time. The violence is over the top, the jokes hit hard and it’s impossible not to laugh your ass off, while also finding yourself on the edge of your seat with this one.
Howden’s previous film, the also enjoyable Deathgasm showed the filmmaker’s knack for splatter violence and laughs and that same expertly crafted aesthetic runs wild in Guns Akimbo as well. Not many other films can have one of the most endearing crack addicts chewing up scenery and Rhys Darby’s Glenjamin steals every scene he’s in, playing an addict with a go-get ‘em attitude, something that adds an odd yet charming aspect to the film. Every character is fleshed out, even the ones with two minutes of screen time. The film’s Skizm villains feel like they’re right out of The Running Man or Avenging Force and that’s a good thing, trust me.
Radcliffe has done such a great job with choosing roles, post-Potter and Guns Akimbo is yet another example of an actor who isn’t wanting to put into typecasting. Like Robert Pattinson, Radcliffe has worked hard to break away from what audiences expected from him and that’s on full display in this film. Weaving’s Nix character is a balls-out, shoot-you-in-the-gut-before-shooting-you-in-the-face kind of character and she gives one of the most badass performances in recent action/horror, much like her work in Ready or Not or Mayhem.
Guns Akimbo is a film perfectly crafted for fans of action and horror and there’s a magic to the film, that screams cult classic in the making. While many films try to capture that special kind of extravagant violence found in ‘80s films, Howden’s film does that in spades, while never once feeling like it’s lifting from other films. A unique, Molotov cocktail of ultra-violence and blood, Guns Akimbo is a force to be reckoned with and is a film that can confidently stand alongside early Peter Jackson or Mark L. Lester. Run to see this wild, insane ride.