Current Issue #488

Film Review:
Guns Akimbo

Writer/director Jason Lei Howden’s second feature is a hugely derivative, tediously frenetic action shoot-em-up improbably starring Daniel Radcliffe, who we find once again embracing a project a long way from his child-friendly Harry Potter past.

Despite its relentless need to be cool, perhaps this irksome epic is most memorable for two offscreen controversies: the first was when an image of Radcliffe clad in dressing-gown and novelty slippers went viral, and punters thought it depicted the star having a boozy breakdown (it’s actually a still from the production), while more recently Howden started a weird online argument that suggested that film critics are bullies and potential killers (or something). And, in the end, those events are actually more interesting than this very film.

Considerably less successful than Howden’s first outing (the comedic, heavy-metallic action horror Deathgasm), this has lowly tech dude Miles living out a dull existence in what might be intended to look like an American city but is quite obviously rainy old Auckland. Miles is intimidated by his bastard boss, pines for his ex Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and enjoys picking pointless fights on the internet (just like this one’s director).

When he trolls the wrong guys, Miles is kidnapped by Riktor (Irish actor Ned Dennehy, another Harry Potter refugee) and his goons, has a pair of magically-reloading guns bolted bloodily to his hands, and is forced to participate in an illegal but seriously popular online duel-to-the-death game called ‘Skizm’. And he’s pitted against carry-over, mass-murdering champion Nix (the Adelaide-born Samara Weaving, Hugo’s niece), who’s seen shooting and skewering multitudes of extras in past massacres, showcasing now-monotonously-cliché JohnWick-esque slo-mo.

Where do we start with all the other echoes, influences and pilferings that make up this all-over-the-shop plot? There are glimmers of the Crank movies in there, the whole killing-for-a-viewing-audience thing is familiar from everything from The Running Man to Series 7: The Contenders, and you’ll also detect traces of Hardcore Henry, Battle Royale, The Matrix and, although Daniel wants to escape everything he stands for, quick visual references to Harry Potter too.

There’s also a slightly amateurish and tatty look to many of the edges here, which director Howden attempts to disguise with reams of humdrum flash and cybernetic nonsense, while Radcliffe tries hard to make his Miles something more than a dull, whining jerk simply aching to get slain.

But there’s surely a built-in Millennial audience for this one who’ll simply adore all the dreary videogame violence, although they’ll have to consult an online dictionary to work out just what the Hell ‘Akimbo’ means. Control-Alt-Delete – quick!!!

Reviewer Rating

Guns Akimbo (MA) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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