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article imageReview: ‘Guns Akimbo’ is a full-tilt, bloody riot Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 4, 2020 in Entertainment
‘Guns Akimbo’ is a brutally entertaining genre movie about a guy who wakes up with guns for hands — either that appeals to you or it doesn’t.
While news articles and social commentators discuss the fate of humanity based on whatever debasement is currently trending, few are as convincing or impactful to mainstream consumers as film. A movie can either use genre to indirectly explore a topic and its consequences, subtly delivering its message to audiences; or, it can take the current fad to the extreme, illustrating the potentially slippery slope and worst-case scenarios. In the case of the latter, it’s typically entirely over-the-top and difficult to fathom — but it’s also not entirely out of the realm of possibility. In Guns Akimbo, the top-rated form of entertainment is murder.
Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a recently single game developer that spends his evenings trolling other internet trolls. Looking for new bullies to confront, he ends up in the chatroom for Skizm, a live-streaming gameshow in which the contestants must kill each other to win. Unfortunately, he challenges the wrong user, bringing Riktor (Ned Dennehy), the criminal kingpin and psychopath who runs Skizm, and his goons to Miles’ door. Waking after being beaten unconscious, Miles discovers guns have been bolted to both his hands and he’s drawn the most lethal opponent in Skizm, Nix (Samara Weaving). On the run in his bathrobe and furry animal slippers, Miles seeks the help of anyone that comes to mind. However, his ability to survive in spite of a total lack of skill or bloodlust makes him one of the most popular players of all-time… and an unexpected threat to Riktor.
This is not the first film to explore the potential evils of reality TV or hypothesize about the extremes showrunners may one day go to retain viewers and, in some cases, order. Using drones to follow the action across the city, mass audiences watch as Miles clumsily avoids being killed and tries to reason with Nix, who is barely even a part of humanity anymore. As most of the city tunes in, Miles gains fans and misplaced celebrity status. Some people are willing to help him, while others just want a selfie — or their own images of the carnage on their phones. It’s a pretty bleak depiction of society, but it’s lightened by the dark humour, odd characters and outrageous situations.
Although Radcliffe gained his recognition via more wholesome entertainment, the risks he’s taken in recent years has paid dividends… at least to audiences. Opting to play atypical characters in unconventional movies, he’s widened his range and acted in several projects many performers of his status wouldn’t have considered. Consequently, he’s become a bit of an indie gem. His portrayal of Miles goes beyond the likeable loser still pining for his ex-girlfriend as he infuses the character with a full personality that’s slowly twisted with every near-death experience. Similarly, even though Weaving is one of the story’s villains, audiences will still find her appealing, raising hope that they can hopefully work something out before killing each other.
Restricted to 95 minutes, the film doesn’t try to do more than the bizarre premise promises, which is an off-the-wall shoot ‘em up featuring a reluctant and ill-qualified hero.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving and Ned Dennehy
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