VOD Releases: If Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel Was a Movie: Guns Akimbo (2020) - Reviewed

When I first heard the premise of Guns Akimbo (2020), I must admit I was intrigued. Daniel Radcliffe plays a dude with two guns bolted to his hands and is forced into playing a Running Man style online death match? Sign me the hell up! I love frenetic zany stuff like Crank (2006) and Hardcore Henry (2015) and I was hoping this was in the same vein. Unfortunately, this film lacks both the breakneck creativity and social commentary of other similar style entries and outside of some admittedly slick visual flair it is shallow and insipid.

Radcliffe plays Miles, a computer programmer who spends his evenings trolling the chatrooms of a popular internet streaming killing spree show called Skizm. His antics catch the attention of Riktor (why does every name in this movie sound like a throwaway Mortal Kombat fighter), the head of Skizm. Riktor and his cronies track Miles down, drug him, and painfully bolt a gun to each of his hands and inform him that he now has to battle Nix (Samara Weaving) a bad-ass female assassin with a penchant for big guns. The set-up sounds great on paper, but the execution is so rushed and underwritten that it ruins any kind of fun it might have had.

Nix is introduced as an amazing fighter--she's doing acrobatics and nailing head shots against numerous opponents. The minute she goes after Miles she turns into a bumbling mess incapable of hitting Miles at pointblank range (with a minigun!), and it's glaringly obvious she is "nerfed" for plot purposes and to extend the cat-and-mouse antics for the duration of the run time. Her character and backstory is infinitely more interesting than Miles, yet she's pushed to the side so that we can see more lame "how do I pee with guns bolted to my hands" style humor. As an aside, all the humor is extremely cringy and feels dated--not to mention that all the internet lingo sounds like it came from an AOL chatroom circa 1997. Radcliffe gives the role all he's got but there's not much for him to work with, unfortunately.

There is also a missed opportunity to explore the Skizm concept, perhaps make it an updated version of the social commentary of The Running Man (1987)? There is a lot of meat there with the proliferation of streaming media, "influencers", vlogging, free-to-play mobile gaming and such. They hardly dig into Skizm and how it works or how it's affected society. Nobody in the film seems to care that there is a violent online battle that's allowed to exist and it's not like it takes place in a dystopian cyberpunk universe. Guns Akimbo doesn't need to be an in-depth dissertation on the ills of modern society or anything, but even a slight amount of depth would have gone a long way.

On the visual front, the film fares a bit better, there are a few well executed action sequences and the bright neon color palette is refreshing. The aesthetic feels distinctly early '00s with tribal patterns and splatter paint galore. The song covers and choices are pretty generic, but the actual electronic score is great. There is a whole lot of speed ramping and even a good old-fashioned "follow the trajectory of a bullet in slow-mo" shot, which I haven't seen used in about a decade. Is this film meant to be a throwback to action movies from 2001 on purpose? I cant tell, to be honest. 

Guns Akimbo might be fun for a turn-your-brain-off kinda night, but there are far better films that scratch the same itch, like the two Crank movies, for example. Just watch those.

--Michelle Kisner