Guns Akimbo is set in a world where a popular streaming site called Skizm picks random psychos, weirdos and criminals and makes them fight to the death while the internet watches. Reminiscent of cult classics such as Crank, Death Race and Kick Ass, this film is a non-stop, nonsensical bloodbath that feels much like a video game. No doubt it deserves to be hailed as one of the craziest movies of the last decade.
Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a game developer dweeb who spends his free time trolling other internet trolls. However, Miles’ days as a keyboard warrior soon backfire when he posts his arrogant comments on the wrong site, Skizm. The site’s crazed owner, Riktor (Ned Dennehy), decides to out-troll Miles by forcibly imposing him with the greatest troll of all – pistols nailed into his hands. Miles soon discovers that the only way for him to stay alive is to win the game of Skizm by killing his opponent, Nix (Samara Weaving).
Nix is undoubtedly one of the more satisfying elements of this entire experience, aptly described as a mix between Harley Quinn and the T-1000 from Terminator. The reigning champ of Skizm, this foul-mouthed killer is as deep as she is entertaining. Redemption is her bomb and cocaine is her detonator – and she has an unlimited amount of both. All in all, she’s the last person you would want to have hunting you down, even with guns strapped to your hands.
Jason Lei Howden really put his best foot forward in directing this film, using his experience as a visual effects artist on Avengers, The Wolverine and War for the Planet of the Apes to keep the energy at maximum. Who knew so much pizzazz could be put into a head exploding!? The editing and cinematography also make Howden’s skills as a director shine as they really throw you into the chaos headfirst. Howden also wrote the screenplay, but this is where most of its shortcomings lay – clunky dialogue and numerous plot holes make some of the scenes between the action drag. While you get a feeling that it might be purposefully satirical, it’s still a let-down.
This film channels some of the most destructive aspects of the internet – trolling, clickbait, and shock value – highlighting its ability to strip people of their humanity and accountability when not communicating face-to-face. Like road rage, it makes people neglect to realise that their negative actions, even when done from a safe place, could lead to real world consequences. Even if you aren’t intending any real harm, you could still wake in the morning to find that thousands of people are watching you and scrutinizing you because of your actions online, just like Miles. This insight is conveyed as a hard truth that’s softened by bullets and blood – one of the best ways to learn an important lesson.
Since Radcliffe’s early days of waving wands and chasing Golden Snitches, he has since starred in an array of strange yet enjoyable indie films. Guns Akimbo continues this trend and is some of his best work to date. While the film does have its pitfalls, any viewer (as long as they have a strong stomach) will enjoy the ride. Let the game begin!