Jason Lei Howden’s Guns Akimbo is like a pre-teen railed a bunch of cocaine, watched Gamer, and went, “Yeah! I could make this.” This is not stated with malice or regret, mind you. You’re tuning in for “Daniel Radcliffe with guns for hands,” and that’s precisely the Nerve meets Shoot ‘Em Up scenario injected into your eyeballs. For better and worse, Guns Akimbo meets all expectations but sometimes struggles to make the leap into God-tier infamy like Howden’s headbanger debut Deathgasm. Howden riffs off midnighter adrenaline gauntlets of action calamity past, commenting on our consumption of media negativity and toxic online obsessions, but in doing so, slavishly indulges in the very themes Guns Akimbo attempts to redefine.
It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon for the criminally insane, and I mean that with love.
Internet troll Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) spends his days coding mobile gaming apps and nights tearing into Skizm commenters. What’s Skizm, you ask? Just the latest live-streamed deathmatch that pits competitors against one another for views. One night, during an alcohol-fueled rage against Skizm’s worst users, Miles finds himself under fire from the creators. Cut to Skizm’s brass breaking his door in, “surgically” attaching pistols to his hands, and forcing him to battle fan-favorite Nix (Samara Weaving) for his freedom.
There’s currently no release plan for Guns Akimbo as it’s only played Toronto International Film Festival and Fantastic Fest, so keep your eye out for future distribution plans. In the meantime, I’ve got three reasons cocked, locked and ready to catch this kinetic action romp.
1. Daniel Radcliffe With Guns For Hands Is Everything You Wanted
We’re long past baby-faced Harry Potter D-Rad, and Guns Akimbo notches yet another experimental genre role he owns extremely hard. Screws are shot through his fingers and palms, keeping “akimbo” hand cannons fastened throughout the film’s entirety. Cue Miles fumbling with doorknobs, pants, and other objects that are much harder to use when your hands are now pointed gun barrels. Bathroom urination becomes fodder for physical comedy, as Radcliffe blends Miles’ frantic paranoia with laughable frustration at the fact that his hands can now blow his face (or other appendages) to smithereens.
Radcliffe’s energy is desperate, playful, and leaning into the Looney Tunes calamity of Guns Akimbo. Miles refuses to accept his iron-sighted circumstance but runs with Skizm’s rules without hesitation. It’s Radcliffe exuding charisma under fire as if he’s buzzed off Monster energy drinks and the constant paranoia of a target on his head. He’s like the main character of a video game fighting against “Streets Of Rage-looking villains” who doesn’t require much definition – but Radcliffe goes all-in anyway. Please, Daniel, keep playing in these unique cinematic capacities.
2. Samara Weaving For President Of Everything, Please
“PUT SAMARA WEAVING IN EVERYTHING,” he screams yet again from the nearest mountaintop. What a gift to Hollywood and humanity. I won’t lie – Nix is an underwritten rival to Miles’ poor shot despite being given a richer backstory. Even so, Weaving’s female Terminator inspiration is number one with a bullet when it comes to rancid, drug-fueled cyber assassins. Her macabre sense of humor is accented by weapons painted with words like “Kindness” and zipping bullets through gangbanger skulls. Weaving understands how to be the hardest warrior in the room, what it takes to monopolize jailhouse charm, and does her best Harley Quinn impression when giddily mowing down drug dealers with an oversized heavy machine blaster (smile included).
Weaving is the anarchistic soldier yin to Radcliffe’s inept shooter yang, metal in her mouth and vengeance in her soul. You’ll get the underbaked connection between Nix, lead Skizm psychopath Riktor (Ned Dennehy), and Miles’ plot to tear down the infection from within – which, admittedly, leaves Nix with nothing but sidekick duty. It’s normal plot advancement material that Weaving still upgrades with her presence alone, be it ignoring Miles’ simplest instructions or bashing mohawked attackers with a hammer after railing a line of “power-up” cocaine like Popeye would spinach. There’s no one I’d rather see look bored while riddling Miles’ “nerd cave” with live rounds, always the greater character during every violent interaction.
3. Kill-‘Em-All Has Never Been So Much Fun
Guns Akimbo never levels up to the heights expected, but that’s the difference between an “A” and a “B” if I were a grade school teacher. Jason Lei Howden knows how to party with gunsmoke and electro-rock trance soundtracks. As Miles interacts with police officers, pursues his crush Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), or eats street urchin leftovers (from Rhys Darby), it’s all juvenile gags and laughs. Frenzied Skizm fans scream cheers of bloodlust as a means of exposing the vitriolic hatred that exists online. You’ve seen these beats before, and you’ll see ‘em again – but you’re here for the shootouts and Howden executes there without restraint.
Even if Guns Akimbo might not ascend beyond splashy combat sequences complete with modernized rock anthem needle drops, it’s still a double-barreled action explosion primed to please the teenager in us all. Vigilante troll justice with a side of improbable gang warfare. Greed corrupts all, humanity encourages suffering, and Danielle Radcliffe has fifty bullets in each hand that might just buy him an extra life. You better believe that Howden shoots every last shot, ensuring a wild, lawless ride with madcap excitement in its crosshairs. Imagine if Scott Pilgrim was forced to compete in The Running Man games, then add an overstocked armory. That’s Guns Akimbo. Never pretentious, always tossing lighter fluid into an already-raging fire.