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Review: GUNS AKIMBO (2019)

Jason Lei Howden made one hell of a debut back in 2015 with the heavy metal horror/comedy Deathgasm. Since then he’s worked as a visual effects artist while developing his next project. I mention this because that project, Guns Akimbo, looks like it was made by an effects guy let loose with a budget and no script. The result is one of my biggest disappointments in recent years.

Miles (Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter, Swiss Army Man) is a nobody office drone. He spends his spare time trolling the internet. One night he makes the mistake of trolling Skizm’s boards. Who or what is Skizm? They’re a group that is highly popular and stages real-life deathmatches. Needless to say, they don’t like being trolled.

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Miles wakes up dressed in a bathrobe, boxers and fuzzy slippers. And with guns bolted to both hands. He’s also the next competitor in their games, set to face the killing machine known as Nix (Samara Weaving, Mayhem, Ready Or Not). May the odds be ever in your favour.

This certainly sounds like it should be, well, a blast. And I’m sure a lot of people will find it one. But the constant use of CGI, high speed and slow-motion photography and overly stylized action scenes, in general, left me cold. The scenes look like animated cut scenes from a video game not what is supposed to be a live-action movie.

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If the many action scenes had been shot without all the gimmicks, say in the style of films like The Raid 2 or The Night Comes For Us it would have been much better. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional camera trickery, but the constant use of it is dull. Even when Guns Akimbo gets on the right track Howden manages to derail. Take the hammer fight near the end of the film. It starts out as a well-choreographed and bloody brawl. Then halfway through turns into a silly, CGI laden beat down scored to Rick James’ Superfreak.

The same can be said of the overdone juvenile jokes. Look at Miles try to take a leak with guns on his hands. Of course, the phone rings in the middle of it so he makes an even bigger mess. Watch him repeatedly drop an ancient hot dog on the ground near a used condom while trying to eat it. It might be funny at first, but the scenes are overdone to the point of tedium. Like the endless back and forth of “Bullshit artist” in The Greasy Strangler, it wears itself into the ground.

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And it’s more the pity because there’s good chemistry between Radcliffe and Weaving. They play nicely off of each other, especially in the final act. Their interplay was one of the few things in Guns Akimbo that worked for me.

As I said, there’s probably an audience for Guns Akimbo. I’m just not part of it. Saban Films will release Guns Akimbo in theatres and On Demand February 28th. You can get more information on the film’s Facebook page. Readers in the area can catch it at a showing sponsored by the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival on the 28th, details here.

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