I remember how hyped I was for this action-packed craziness Guns Akimbo a couple of years ago. I truly enjoyed Jason Howden’s last movie, Deathgasm, and was anxious to see more of his work. However, after about fifteen minutes, I stopped watching the movie. Why? I found it to be too pandering, aggressive, and ultimately, cringy. That was about two years ago. As I was going through some stuff back then, I decided to give this movie another chance and boy did it take it or what! On this second viewing, all that bad stuff turned into the good stuff and I really enjoyed the rest of it too. Just to be clear this movie is definitely worth watching. The special effects are awesome, pacing relentless and it’s just so fucking entertaining!
So, what changed? Well, for starters I knew what I was getting myself into and was ready for a bit of social commentary. Just the tip mind you, it’s not really that important to the story. Secondly, I was able to distance myself and just go along for a ride. A ride that I was resisting the first time around because I felt I’m part of this artificially generated hype-train with the rest of gen pop. And I was simply too cool for that. Not to mention all the memes with Daniel Radcliffe waving guns bolted to his hands. Howden sure knows how to make a memable movie, Deathgasm also gave us that meme of a guy in full corpse paint eating ice cream with a nice girl on a park bench. Now I was able to spot all the cool references and enjoy that gloriously eighties synthwave soundtrack.
Welcome to the world of tomorrow! Everything is pretty much the same with one important difference: Skizm. Skizm is a game live-streamed across the world, where two contestants enter and the one who survives is the winner. Game designer Miles hates shit like that and he trolls the comment sections of these videos. However, when he wakes up one morning with two guns bolted to his hands as one of the contestants, he will have to reevaluate that.
Can one single concept make a movie successful? Ancient Game of Death Theorists say yes and point to the “guns bolted to hands” concept in Guns Akimbo. Every time you see them, you think just how outrageous the story is. They basically bolted this and a couple of other, also familiar concepts to an already very familiar deadly tournament concept. The Tournament, Death Race and Gamer already explored similar setups. While Wanted, Dredd and Shoot ‘Em Up feel similar stylistically. And yet this movie is an entertaining adrenaline ride that’s still fun to watch. It sure as shit is not the new Running Man, but if you’re looking for something engaging, it will do more than fine.
There’s a lot of nicely choreographed violence, shootouts, and witty remarks. Guns Akimbo is genuinely funny and I know that because I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at a couple of scenes. Something that rarely happens with these sorts of movies. The best character hands-down is the homeless guy, Glenjamin played by hilarious Rhys Darby. You might remember him from Yes Man or the Jumanji reboot. And yes, Radcliffe did give another great performance along with my homegirl Samara. I don’t care about the missing eyebrows, psycho personality or any of that shit, I still think she’s hot and I would ask her out. This is her second time shooting up an entire office building after Mayhem.
This movie belongs to a new genre that emerged in the last couple of years where movies feel like they’re actually video games. I want to mention Next Level, Free Guy, Extraction, Edge of Tomorrow, and others. What makes it stand out is the authenticity of Miles’s back story. Hell, he feels awfully similar to me. Only I played Quake Champions just a bit. And I’m not a keyboard warrior. Fuck, that’s the thing. That’s the thing that annoyed me the first time I saw the movie. The whole let’s make keyboard warriors into real warriors thing. I feel much better now that I’ve figured that out for reals.
Finally, I just want to check a couple of references that went pretty much unnoticed by the rest of the reviewers. First of all, I believe that Nix is inspired by Nyx, a similar female character from Quake Champions, the game Miles was playing in one of the scenes. Secondly, I believe that the eighties trenchcoat she’s wearing during the final showdown is a reference to a certain scene from Highlander II. If you forgot just how crazy that movie is, check out The Glorious Insanity That is Highlander II: The Quickening. I also believe that the x-ray zooms are inspired by the Sniper Elite video game franchise. And finally, that Nix’s throat tattoo reads: “If you can read this your too close”.
And remember: When the shit goes down, you better be ready! Hot damn, is that a good album or what? Every fucking song is a hit and it starts with one of the classics, I want to get high. Maybe that will get me to give a second chance to another movie I didn’t like on the first viewing, Nekrotronic.
Director: Jason Howden
Writer: Jason Howden
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Grant Bowler
Fun Facts: According to Director, Jason Lei Howden, the title ‘Guns Akimbo’ stems from a video game called Blood 3D that he used to play back in the ’90s.