Written and directed by Jason Lei Howden, GUNS AKIMBO (2020) is a fast-paced splatterfest, but its forced plot and TRUMAN-style elements dilutes its impact. Daniel Radcliffe proves again he’s acting now for pure fun and is up for anything, and Samara Weaving once again brings a great performance. Overall, the film is fun but kind of mind-numbing.
In the near future, an underground fight club called Skizm live streams real-life death matches between psychotic criminals. When computer programmer Miles Harris (Radcliffe) trolls the trolls on Skizm’s forums, he catches the attention of Skizm’s boss, and after an abduction, wakes to find out two guns have been bolted into his hands and he’s now in the game himself, faced off against the game’s most savage killer, Nix.
What follows is a fun romp as Miles fights to evade Nix until he’s forced to face off against Skizm itself.
The setup is great, the performances are great, and there’s a NATURAL BORN KILLERS flair and vibe to the action and frequent adrenaline plot injections. Overall, I found it kind of fun. But it often feels forced–from the plot to the overbaked villain to the overuse of one-liners–so much so I myself didn’t feel much of anything. Near the end, there are frequent TRUMAN SHOW-style reaction shots from the audience watching the game online, reminding us how we’re supposed to be reacting, but by the end I wasn’t cheering but instead felt kind of numb.
I’m not adverse to good mindless violence on film, in fact sometimes I seek it out. GUNS AKIMBO does the job, but overall it didn’t quite come together for me. So I guessed I like this one but didn’t love it the way I did similar films like MAYHEM.