[Review] ‘GUNS AKIMBO’ sees Daniel Radcliffe cranking it up in entertainingly violent shoot-’em-up

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Travis Leamons // Film Critic

GUNS AKIMBO

Rating: R, 95 minutes.
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Cast: Daniel RadcliffeSamara WeavingRhys Darby, Ned Dennehy and Natasha Liu Bordizzo

You have to admire Daniel Radcliffe’s tenacity and his lengths to distance himself from the HARRY POTTER franchise. Not that he’s ashamed of being the famous boy wizard who looks as if he has the mark of Zorro on his forehead, but because it would have been so easy to pigeonhole the young star in a bunch of fantasy retreads. Sifting through the scripts, Radcliffe would go on to star in an adaptation of Joe Hill’s HORNS, portray the famous poet Allen Ginsberg in KILL YOUR DARLINGS, and even play a decomposing body that farts in SWISS ARMY MAN.

Action hero seems so far off for Radcliffe, again, because we are so accustomed to seeing him as the Boy Who Lived. GUNS AKIMBO changes that perception as Harry throws down his wand and crumples his Hogwarts diploma in what turns out to be an insanely cheeky, thumbs up salute in targeting online bullies.

GUNS AKIMO might as well be the third CRANK movie we never got. Its hyper-kinetic energy and super-violent action squeeze every bit of pulp that it can only to then swallow the remains. The film presents violence for entertainment, then changes the dynamic by having the “Troller of Internet Trolls” play the reluctant hero.

Wigged out on energy drinks and playing first-person shooters all night, Miles (Radcliffe) returns to the daily malaise as a web coder for some smartphone game, working under some macho-prick supervisor. Miles is basically an asthmatic Neo without Keanu’s cool factor. That all changes the night he starts his anti-troll campaign against the sycophants and the voyeurs of SKISM, an entity that has monopolized organized deathmatches, which stream 24/7.

Busting into his apartment like they received a one-star rating on Yelp, SKISM developer Riktor (Ned Dennehy) and his entourage take offense to Miles’s trolling and make him the next contestant (victim?). To make it interesting, they surgically bolt guns to his hands and give him a 24-hour window to kill his opponent. He’s matched up against “Nix” (READY OR NOT’s Samara Weaving), the game’s preeminent killer. SKISM is pretty much Nix’s vocation, much to the chagrin of her opponents and the cops trying to intervene.

Miles can’t rely on cheat codes to give him extra lives or ammo. And the bolted guns give him an added handicap that Radcliffe plays up stubbornly as he gets accustomed to being the Second Amendment’s response to Edward Scissorhands. But as viewership rises – and Miles’s power fantasy narrative becomes a reality – so does the action. Low budget and totally insane.

GUNKS AKIMBO hits that action trash sweet spot, where blood and popcorn stick to your teeth like shoes stepping onto spill-dried coke linoleum. Millennials may not be old enough to know that feeling, but those who have grown up on a steady diet of video games, comic books, and action flicks of the ‘80s/early ‘90s will definitely understand.

This is an enjoyable time-waster that, for those looking for a fun B-movie, isn’t a total waste of time.

Grade: B

GUNS AKIMBO is now playing in select theaters and available on Digital-On-Demand.

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