Movie Review: Guns Akimbo
A rebellious and garish shootout born out of gamer’s deepest desires
Take away his wand. Give him some guns. Make him a nerd. Is it really that straightforward? Nope, I don’t think so . There is so much more going on in Guns Akimbo that it is not just an alternate universe where Harry Potter was born in a modern world and grew up to become a programmer.
After watching eight films in a timespan that stretches over eleven years, it is hard for me to associate Danial Radcliffe with anything other than a boy-wizard, and yet, here he is today, toying with guns in Guns Akimbo. Truth to be told, I was not overly excited to hop into the theaters for Guns Akimbo when I screened the trailers initially. The sight of Radcliffe’s character going Will Farrell, running around in public with his hairy thigh exposed isn’t exactly enticing. The last time I checked my ID, I was not a teenage-girl wizard.
If you are still in the dark, Radcliffe plays Miles Lee Harris, a teenage nerd stuck in a desk job, who hired himself as a part-time keyboard warrior. In his effort to bring justice to the virtual world, his path crosses with SKIZM, a lawless organization hosting live matches between criminals and psychopaths, and see them battling to their deaths. It’s like a popular Youtuber turning towards the dark side, but instead of one, you have to deal with like ten of them.
Just a fair warning, if you plan on seeing Guns Akimbo for yourselves; the way Miles hooks up with SKIZM is not all that complex, so don’t expect or demand much from this aspect of the plot. After some agonizing encounters with SKIZM, Miles ends up in a situation where he needs to face Nix (Samara Weaving), who pursues Miles in a way that your ex would, if you don’t return her five missed-calls at 12 midnight.
Right off the bat, Guns Akimbo is not afraid to show you its true colors. No, not that colors, I simply meant that deep cyan, tangerine, magenta or whatever colors that were reflected by the set, or corrected post-production to give off that futuristic, neon, or punk look to the scenes. Director Jason Lei Howden’s obsession to constantly get the scenes overlaid with game-style animations and floating social media interface further suggests Guns Akimbo as a film with some fresh perspectives, or that it’s somehow rebellious in the sense of film-making.
Both ways, if you are a young-adult moviegoer, I suspect that those personalities will click well with you. But be warned that if you are over that age group, certain scenes where they use strong-colored lighting -like one where the screen basically shines vibrant red onto your face- may hurt your aged eyes. As my eyes were recovering from the shock endured, I started to question whether Guns Akimbo was trying to convey a message that it’s not meant for people my age.
And to further accentuate that, the cinematography gave nod to extreme barrel-rolling motion that, despite befits the fast-paced action scenes they were in, gave me some drunk-nausea for just the price of a movie ticket. A bargain, actually.
Usually doused with loud, banging music, those action sequences are indeed fast. Not Jason Statham-type of quickness, but with some good action choreography, appropriate filming angle and fast cuts, they are able to stand on their own. Even against its own random executive decision to include highly questionable moments. A screaming Miles trying to prevent his face from getting torn by a spinning motorcycle tire? Are the audience supposed to gasp or giggle at that scene? Me? I gawked.
To be fair to me, that very instance mentioned above can be found in the trailer itself, so I am not technically spoiling Guns Akimbo. And to be fair to Guns Akimbo, such a breed of scenes are very rare and far between. The abundance and thrill of the action pieces slotted into the narrative have more than make it up.
Undoubtedly, there were many ways which Guns Akimbo had managed to hook me in during my 95 minutes of fiasco with the film. Despite how outrageous it is, there’s simply no denying that this rebellious formula had given way to mini twists and turns along the story, which makes the plot somewhat unpredictable even though the overall structure remains the same.
In fact, Howden clearly knows his game when it comes to engineering pain and unthinkable inconvenience into the scenes that come right after Miles wakes up from SKIZM’s courtesy upgrade. I suspect that it is the full intention of Howden to put the audience in constant worry about the direction that those guns are pointing, and Miles is usually just a wrong-trigger away from hurting himself, oftentimes in the area that generally all men will treasure the most.
With that said, we shall now move our attention towards the women in Guns Akimbo. Behind every unfortunate man, lies a psychotic woman, and this is more than exemplary in Guns Akimbo, and another earlier film which the former had possibly taken inspiration from; Wanted (2008). Leading man is stuck in a miserable life with a desk-job and a boss he equally hates, until a deadly woman comes into the picture? Doesn’t that sound a little too familiar, Wanted fans?
Nix, as played by Samara Weaving, is a towering figure of insanity, blood-spill and coolness. Her black leather jacket and way of pursuit reminds me a lot about T2, and despite constantly reminding me of an iconic, manly cyborg from the 90’s, she still holds the allure and appeal akin to Fox (Angelina Jolie) in Wanted. Unfortunately, however, her appeal to me did not last very long in the film, and her presence became pretty much diluted as Guns Akimbo kicked into the third act.
It is not that the story-fabric in the final act did not present her the chance to shine, but it seems that the executive decisions did not give much emphasis for Nix to arc, and to do something else beyond what she had been doing excellently for the first two acts. That is, dealing destruction.
In retrospect, Miles does enjoy a deserving character arc towards the end (which is expected), but thanks no less to Radcliffe putting up a strong and believable performance right until the credits roll. Some bloodier moments do demand a little bit more of a range out of his normal boy-wizard acting spectrum, but those turned out commendably, and nothing seems too funny or out of place.
Oh boy, how can I even forget about the comedic aspect of the movie? I realized that Guns Akimbo was being marketed as an action-comedy, and though the funnier sides of the film are bordering on dark humor, I did not find those comical scenes to be particularly amusing. Perhaps it was just me, but nevertheless, I have come out with some pretty good guidelines in case you want to fully enjoy Guns Akimbo’s humor, which is:
You must be comfortable laughing at silly scenes and treat it as an intended humor
You laugh comfortably at other people’s pain
You laugh comfortably seeing a person exploding
Guns Akimbo taps into video-gamers and mundane-job workers’ deepest desire to play a real game of life or death, through unapologetically over-the-top antics, an outlandish color scheme and bold cinematography. Those who have the appetite and believe in the personality of films identical to Guns Akimbo will pair well with the film’s rebellious behavior, violent ways, deafening music, and, well, Nix. But non-believers may still take refuge in the generous offering of quick-paced action, while riding through a narrative that is kind of unpredictable. Depending on which camp you are in, Guns Akimbo can be intoxicating, or nauseating. Or both–The Film Addict
*Guns Akimbo is now available on Prime Video
Originally published at https://www.thefilmaddict.com