Combustible Celluloid
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With: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Mark Rowley, Grant Bowler, Hanako Footman, Josh Robert Thompson, Set Sjöstrand, Jacqueline Lee Geurts, Milo Cawthorne, Colin Moy, Edwin Wright, Racheal Ofori, Jack Riddiford
Written by: Jason Lei Howden
Directed by: Jason Lei Howden
MPAA Rating: R for strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and brief graphic nudity
Running Time: 95
Date: 02/28/2020

Guns Akimbo (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Over a Barrel

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This very busy, cynical, anxious dark comedy offers the usual surface commentary about the evils of the internet, but eventually Radcliffe and Weaving manage to add some welcome humanity to the story. Unfortunately, Guns Akimbo's release is somewhat tainted by the bullying online behavior of its writer/director, Jason Lei Howden, but those who can separate the movie from these events may find something worthwhile anyway.

In Guns Akimbo, Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) works for an unscrupulous video game company and spends all his free time on social media, trolling the trolls. One night he finds a brutal online game, Skizm, where the deadly Nix (Samara Weaving) battles challengers to the death. His comments draw the attention of Skizm kingpin Riktor (Ned Dennehy); Riktor and his minions show up at Miles's apartment and knock him unconscious.

When he wakes up, he has guns bolted to each of his hands. Worse, his ex-girlfriend, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), whom he still loves, has been kidnapped, and now Miles must play the game against Nix.

The movie's first section begins like a staccato attack, a torrent of foul language and violence and noise and rage and cynicism — as well as frequent, ugly shots of death-obsessed viewers watching and cheering the online killings — that can be a big turn-off.

During this time, Miles comes across like a slothful, uncaring jerk, and Nix is a drugged-up, unrepentant killing machine. But, after a while, the movie slows down a little and gives both characters a chance to come to life, and, amazingly, they both become likable, especially after they decide to team up against a greater foe.

Guns Akimbo is crazy, shot and edited like a rollercoaster; it's quite sadistic, and insanely violent and vulgar, and will not be for every taste. But a small cult audience, say the viewers that liked things like Crank, Crank 2, and Hardcore Henry, may find similar entertainment here.

The good folks at Lionsgate were unable to send a physical Blu-ray or DVD, due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but I did receive a very nice digital copy. I'm told the bonus features on the physical product include an audio commentary with Writer-Director Jason Lei Howden, a "Welcome to SKIZM" featurette, and a "Nix vs. Dane Stunt Sequence Exploration" featurette.

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