If you thought Daniel Radcliffe playing a corpse was weird, Guns Akimbo says “Hold my beer!”
This movie was one all of our radars here at Deluxe Video Online when it came out back in February…just about the time everything in the world went to hell. So, it kinda fell of our to-do list for a while. Well, now that it’s free on Amazon Prime, we’re reheating this very weird movie for post Thanksgiving leftovers.
Guns Akimbo (Feb. 2020)
Miles is a video game developer who inadvertently becomes the next participant in a real-life death match that streams online, known as Skizm. While Miles excels at running away from everything, that won’t help him outlast Nix, a killer at the top of her game.
Guns Akimbo feels very familiar. The color palette and Samara Weaving’s Nix would feel right at home in Suicide Squad. The frenetic camera work and frequent POV switches reminded me of Hardcore Henry. The main baddies in Skizm (and the social metaphors they embody) could be swapped into an iteration of The Purge without batting an eyelash. The run and gun action, set to a blaring selection of pop and rock hits, mashes up the artistry of John Wick with the over-the-top craziness of Kick Ass.
It seems director Jason Lei Howden is aware of how much of his film borrows from other action films. Miles frequently breaks the fourth wall to call out some of the silliest elements, to mixed effect. It doesn’t quite reach the level of self awareness that a Scott Pilgrim achieves, and because of that, all the lampshading comes across as a cop out in places.
Guns Akimbo wants to be smarter than the genre tropes its appropriating. Unfortunately, it keeps playing into most of the juvenile or problematic elements. It usually steps back from the edge, but keeps flirting with it.
Leads to Gold.
What saves much of the questionable edginess is the work Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving put into their lead roles. Samara’s Nix is such a gleeful agent of chaos and misanthropy that she gives you cover for enjoying all of the antisocial elements of the movie. Radcliffe absolutely goes full kayfabe, never dropping character even when addressing the audience, and his earnestness makes it okay to invest yourself in the movie’s story and world, despite how utterly bonkers they are.
Immediately after watching the movie, I was pretty stoked about it. It’s got lots of rough edges, but I felt like it was what Stephen King calls “good trash.” The pace, the action choreography, the soundtrack, and the boss-level performances from the stars really carried the movie through to the checkered flag.
Having had a day to sit back and chew on my first impressions a bit more, my opinion mellowed a little. Movies like Harcore Henry or Upgrade also had lots of raggedy bits, and were arguably trashy good times, but they were so utterly their own animals that you had to step back and tip your cap. Guns Akimbo, feeling like it homages so many iconic action flicks, suffers a bit from familiarity.