Jason Lei Howden’s erratic online behavior is utterly disgusting, but Guns Akimbo is not a total reflection of the director’s douchebaggery. While envisioning the writer-director’s toxic masculinity, Howden’s visions are also crafted with an electric action bonanza that might resemble action video games in terms of the over-the-top sequences and camera movements. That might be understandable since the movie observes a game-developer which is tangled in a real-life game of death after, out of boredom, troll-hunting in an illegal, snuff streaming service.
The poor guy is Miles Lee Harris (Daniel Radcliffe), who is bullied at the office by his superior before succumbing himself into Skizm, an underground fight club that streams death match between sociopaths, psychopaths, criminals, and basically any blood-thirsty guys. Knowing that it’s a movie from the director who brought us the campy, exploitative Deathgasm, it’s easy to measure up how depraved and scandalous Skizm can be. The viewers vary from those kinky sex maniacs, gay club members, rednecks, to some Twitch aficionados. Knowing how depraved the users are, Miles jokingly trolls them with slurs and offensive comments during the stream. Unbeknownst to him, his behavior has attracted Skizm’s owner, Riktor (Ned Dennehy) and his campy-looking minions (one of them is a masked guy called “Fuckface.”)
The craziest part begins when Riktor and co knock Miles unconscious and make him the Guns Akimbo by bolting guns to his both hands, each with 50 bullets only. He’s confronted with Skizm’s reigning champion, Nix (Samara Weaving), a sociopath on loose who is eager to gun-fu a bunch of guys—John Wick style—with Uzi. Weaving is incredible; Nix is her third consecutive badass femme fatale character (after The Babysitter and Ready or Not), yet it might be her most iconic one by far. The mad Nix immediately hunts Miles and the movie will soon follow the latter as he attempts to escape the situation only to confront more sheer bedlams.
Radcliffe ironically is the correct personification of the Guns Akimbo. Miles expects the job as a game-developer means handling nextgen console games with actions and spectacles, but, in fact, he’s only handling some boring mobile games with tricky in-app purchases. At the same time, he keeps online-stalking his stunning ex, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), and hoping that they could get back together. The whole things juxtapose perfectly with Radcliffe’s post-Harry Potter career. While he hasn’t found another breakthrough yet, his gigs had never been as influential as his Harry Potter tenure. In the end, it’s his audacity to go dirty is what keeps him on the radar (let’s not forget his Horns and Swiss Army Man kinds of audacity). But, his helplessness is what makes this death match a tough-watch.
The plot focuses mostly on how Miles attempts to escape from Nix, which only infuriates Riktor more. After some time, the whole cat-and-mouse game becomes repetitive and fuzzy. Stefan Ciupek’s camera moves erratically giving audiences a sense of confusion (if not motion sickness) with several track shots which sometimes make a funny circular movement. When it gets to the action spectacles, however, Guns Akimbo excels, especially when Nix is on the screen. She loves over-kill and dick-shots; the movie loves that, too. Fake CGI blood or blatant sounds of bone-cracking looks utterly implausible, but, they give real video-game senses.
Radcliffe will soon overrun the trajectory as well. However, most of the time, his character is outshone by Weaving’s badassery. With the plot that goes here and there without any actual substance inside, Guns Akimbo might seem like a missing opportunity. Given its vast and rapid plot, the narrative does not even get all the chances to expose Miles’ struggle in mastering his new blessing-or-curse capability rather than some low-key comedy that soon withers. It’s fuckup from the beginning to the end; but, the action sequences are highly-energized with unprecedented repeat values.