Guns Akimbo

  • 30 May - 05 Jun, 2020
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Reviews

One doesn't expect subtlety from a filmmaker whose first (surprisingly amusing) movie went by the title Deathgasm. And one certainly doesn't get it from Guns Akimbo, the second, higher-stakes feature by Jason Lei Howden. A gamer-geared shoot-'em-up starring Daniel Radcliffe and Ready or Not's Samara Weaving, it's somehow exhausting but not exhilarating, a nonstop chase scene that would be a good deal more fun if not getting caught seemed even like a one-in-a-million prospect.

Radcliffe plays Miles, a mopey coder who, since his breakup with Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), has found pleasure in little but getting drunk and stoking the ire of online trolls. He's taunting the fans of an odious new phenomenon called Skizm – in which viewers watch real-world death matches conducted on the streets of Shrapnel City – when Skizm bites back: The site's operators, a crew of Road Warrior rejects led by the face-tattooed Riktor (Ned Dennehy), show up at Miles' apartment and knock him out. When he awakens, he has both his hands attached to firearms – steel bolts pierce his palms and fingers – and is told he'll have to fend off Skizm's star assassin, a fury called Nix (Weaving).

The trouble is, we've just watched Nix kill a dozen hardened criminals without breaking a sweat; hell, she did some serious John Woo nonsense in a car chase/gunfight while she had a hoodie fully obscuring her eyes. So the idea that the physically hopeless Miles can dodge her first shots, then evade her again, then keep up that miracle-man act for an hour, is so beyond the pale it makes continuing to invest in the action a serious challenge.

Nova maces him as soon as she sees his gun-hands, then gets herself kidnapped by Riktor, whose lightly comic exasperation with his imperfect henchmen is proving to be the one nuanced thing in the film. So now Miles must, in what Riktor calls a "lightning round," save Nova while simultaneously fending off Nix.

The ingredients for an engagingly ridiculous action pic are here, but the pacing's all wrong. Though we know in our hearts Nix and Miles will somehow team up, the two share no moments that make such a truce seem plausible, or that prepare us to enjoy it when they do.