Guns Akimbo

Review: Guns Akimbo

13 Apr 20

An adrenaline-fuelled hot mess

I’m not sure what I was expecting when confronted with the idea of muggle Harry Potter with guns attached to his hands being thrown into an underground deathmatch. The premise is clearly outlandish and over-the-top, but considering my favourable opinion of Death Race and The Condemned (and to a lesser extent, The Hunger Games and Battle Royale), I had high hopes of being entertained.

And initially, that was indeed the case. Jumping straight into the action with a high-pace, high-intensity gunfight, Guns Akimbo was a veritable flurry of energy and excitement. Quick edits of high powered rifles, excessive glorified drug-use affecting and exaggerating the speed of the action sequence, bodies flipping onto tables and cameras flipping along with them, all within a neon-infused lair. The scene looks flashy at first glance and sets up one of our antagonists well as a crazy ass-kicking bad-ass, but the up-close camera style combined with the quick edits and constantly changing speeds, ends up being messy and increasingly difficult to follow. Fine for a single scene, not ideal for the full length of the movie.

What is missing from Guns Akimbo is a sense of its own unique identity. Combine the literal drug-fuelling from Crank, with the damaged and psychotic blonde anti-hero with the bleached skin that licks her guns from Suicide Squad, the fish-out-of-water with unusable hands from Edward Scissorhands, the neon-accentuated high-contrast dystopian environments of Nekrotronic, the video game mechanics of Grand Theft Auto and Gamer, the styling of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, the one-liners of Scarface, and the general premise of The Running Man. The resulting amalgamation is what we have here; Guns Akimbo. There is nothing inherently distinct in this Daniel Radcliffe flick, where its incessant pop culture references are more copy and pasted from other films, than paying homage to.

For kiwi audiences, there is a certain thrill to seeing Radcliffe run for his life through Auckland’s central business district, and figuring out the complexities of day-to-day life with guns for hands is an absolute treasure trove of physical comedy, but for a supposed satire on the dangers of unrestricted internet entertainment, it glorifies absolutely everything in excess; the drugs are magical and lifesaving, a shotgun blast to the crotch is the preferred form of violence, and no life beyond the protagonists has any value.

Simply put, the script is weak and relies too heavily on the visual element to keep the audience’s interest. It works fine for the first act, but the film is so bloated with unnecessary subplots and forecasts the major plot points so far in advance, that it ends up with a 95-minute run-time that feels more like 155 minutes. Along with the weak script, the characterization is also lacking. Using narration instead of showing us the character development, Radcliffe comes across as less likeable, and Samara Weaving--while nearly unrecognizable--is one-note and lacks any charisma.

It's loud, it's obnoxious, it's violent, it's needlessly gratuitous, and if I was still a teenager, I may love this. Unfortunately, when you don't care about any of the characters, there is less little reason to care about what happens in the story. Inconsistencies in the plot are glaring and become more noticeable as the plot progresses. Chaotic and full of bright colours, but Guns Akimbo falls short of being memorable.