Guns Akimbo Review: Bolted On Madness
Gamer culture has been a scapegoat for violence in the real world for a long time with many a group blaming the graphic pixels on our screens for issues in our society. A slightly newer phenomenon is that of mobile phone and social media addiction and it’s influence on our lives and tastes. Combine these two social panics in extreme doses and you get Guns Akimbo.
Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a down on his luck coder who is still hung up on his ex girlfriend, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and works for a typical dude-bro boss who makes his life hell at work. His only outlet is his online persona as a committed keyboard warrior. He trolls the trolls. His online taunting takes him to a site called Skizm that live streams real life death matches between criminals for the cackling amusement of those sat safely behind their screens. This violence is extreme, gratuitous and visceral, so of course the Internet loves it! Miles however is disgusted and sets to work letting those on the site know his feelings on the matter. Of course, pissing off this group of fans has very harsh consequences.
The creators behind Skizm deicide that Miles needs to go from keyboard warrior to a locked and loaded member of the game, so they pay him a late night visit. After a late night visit from some heavily tattooed and dangerously armed mods Miles wakes up the next day with two guns bolted to his hands, each with 50 rounds, and a death match to fight against one of Skizm’s top hitters, Nix (Samara Weaving). Let the game begin.
“Turns out sometimes all you need to unleash your inner rage is guns bolted to your hands, an insane killer after you and a murder game show behind you.”
Guns Akimbo is a high octane, energetic and hyper-stylised film that indulges in its video game visuals with glee. The heavily saturated electric colour palette and use of neon on screen graphics, including ammo capacity and ridiculous comments from the online users of Skizm, remind the viewer that this reality is more virtual than it is factual. Whip fast editing is combined with frenetic cinematography that proves a camera can cartwheel, kick flip and roundhouse just as well as the players of Skizm.
The use of a voice over from Miles reminds us why we care about this character and highlight the ridiculous nature of his online trolling life. The ‘internet speak’ being used outside of the comment forum makes it laughable when paired with outlandish violence. The film continually cuts from the intense John Wick style action to the cackling faces of viewers lapping up the violence, reveling in the peril of these real life ‘avatars’. Every set piece action scene is scored to perfection with a thumping electronic beat that pushes the pace of the film into high gear and keeps it there. Also thrown in are some perfectly chosen soundtrack cues that intensify the moment or play on the humour of the scene. As ‘Citrus Hill’ so eloquently puts it “When the shit goes down you better be ready.”
“Mild mannered Miles meets his complete counterpart with Nix, she is loud, aggressive, dangerous and sociopathic, everything you need to be to survive Skizm.”
Radcliffe has made some brilliantly interesting choices since stepping off of the set of Harry Potter. He was a guy with devil horns in Horns, a bloated corpse in Swiss Army Man and now an out of his depth programmer turned killer in Guns Akimbo. Radcliffe plays up the ridiculous nature of his circumstances with pure slapstick as he struggles to unlock his phone, drive a car or even pee due to the cumbersome guns bolted to his hands. His transformation from shy and mild mannered to all out violent insanity is a delight to watch. Turns out sometimes all you need to unleash your inner rage is guns bolted to your hands, an insane killer after you and a murder game show behind you. Never has a dressing gown and slippers combo been so badass.
Guns Akimbo proves that Samara Weaving is a gift to genre films and should be treasured. Nix is an anarchist with a love for violence and one hell of skill set to back it up. Everything from her physical appearance, bleached eyebrows, face tattoos and metal fangs, to her manic presence makes her beyond enjoyable to watch. Mild mannered Miles meets his complete counterpart with Nix, she is loud, aggressive, dangerous and sociopathic, everything you need to be to survive Skizm. Weaving has kicked her fair share of ass as a cult leading babysitter in The Babysitter and a tormented bride in Ready or Not, but this time she gets a heavier arsenal and a much higher body count.
Guns Akimbo definitely has a Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on crack vibe, which I can completely get behind. Some of the themes may not completely land but it’s the enjoyment of the spectacle and the fun of satirizing the world of online violence that keeps the narrative moving. There are some hilarious moments thrown into this absurd pistol whip of a film. It’s sure to keep the right audience smiling throughout.