VOD film review: Guns Akimbo
Ivan | On 06, Aug 2021
“Can you help me? I have guns bolted to my hands.” That’s Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) in Guns Akimbo, after he wakes up with guns bolted to his hands. To say that the film states the obvious would be more subtle than anything that happens during its loud, brash 95 minutes.
The film, which is written and directed by Jason Lei Howden, is set in a near future where an online network has sprung up that follows players engaging in violent death matches. Called Skizm, it attracts the trolling scorn of computer programmer Miles, but his insults lead to people breaking into his flat and knocking him out. When he comes to, he’s got weaponry strapped to his limbs and finds himself the target of the network’s top scorer Nix (Samara Weaving) – which means he has no choice but to join in the carnage.
And so the stage is set for what is ostensibly a satire of our online age, a time in which digital entertainment and viewing things through the lens of smartphones has led to the desensitisation of violence and the dehumanisation of others. But Guns Akimbo is so busy trying to imitate the very things it deplores that any satirical message is drowned out by the non-stop barrage of bullets.
Daniel Radcliffe, who has done a wonderful job of establishing himself as a versatile and often comic actor away from Harry Potter, has made excellent choices at almost every stage of his career. This isn’t one of them. While he’s believable as a guy dragged reluctantly into Skizm’s unfamiliar arena of cruelty, he’s also not given enough to make Miles a remotely likeable figure, with his trolling of trolls at the film’s opening just coming across as perpetuating an online cycle of thoughtless bullying. The appearance of an ex-girlfriend as even less of a character only reinforces the feeling that Guns Akimbo is more concerned with surface-level thrills than anything approaching depth.
The subject matter is nothing new, having been tackled more confidently in Nerve. The pacing here is suitably frantic but the relentless volley of blood and collateral damage soon becomes ironically desensitised – starting off turned up to 11, it leaves itself nowhere to go. The result is an unpleasant viewing experience that wants to provoke but only leaves you feeling numb.
Guns Akimbo is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.