Having guns attached to your hands and being thrust into a gladiator-type battle for an audience of a dark website watching you fight for your life all while being hunted by the top criminal assassin with a penchant for cocaine-fueled rampages is one hell of a synopsis. That’s Guns Akimbo for you, and yes, it is as crazy and erratic as that sentence sounds.
To put simply, Guns Akimbo is a hot mess, but in the best neon-drenched and rock ‘n roll way. The world of the film is one where streaming culture has reached its dark timeline limit: criminals hunting down other criminals and killing them for sport, all recorded through drones and CCTV. Run by Skizm, a dark web organization thriving on viewership of its bloody game, murders and criminals are pitted against each other to fight to the death. The top of these killers is Nix (Samara Weaving). A coke-fueled assassin who has yet to lose a match, she’s deadly, she’s out of her mind, and all she cares about is winning.
The film takes shape when Miles (Daniel Radcliffe), a troller of trolls and coder living a dead-end life decides to piss off Skizm’s viewers only to be visited by some of them and have guns attached to his hands. With 50 bullets each he’s been put up against Nix and what follows is a series of chases, combat, and obscene violence.
Truthfully, the story is just kind of floating there, close enough for you to know it but without depth for you to fall into, and for some reason, that works here. The absurdity, visuals, and violence of Guns Akimbo is what keeps you focused on the film. That being said, Radcliffe and Weaving offer up performances that completely match the off-the-wall-script and the overall tone of the film from writer-director Jason Lei Howden. Their dialogue is absurd, the action is feverish, and the pace is like shots being fired from Nix’s gatling gun just as you would expect from the guy who directed Deathgasm.
As Miles, Radcliffe is extremely pathetic, afraid of all confrontation that isn’t behind a keyboard. When he’s thrust into Skizm’s world of fighting we get to see him evolve from someone who runs from his problems into someone who attempts to fight back, even if he’s bad at it. His awkward demeanor and panicked identity make him a great stand-in for the audience. We’re not supposed to understand Skizm, we’re just supposed to be on the ride.
That being said, Weaving is truly the star of this film. Coming off of her success in Ready or Not, fans of her will be excited to see her fighting even harder in Guns Akimbo. If you’ve been following Weaving’s career you know how she excels covered in blood and its no different here. Her dialogue lacks depth but she makes every one of her irreverent profanity-laced jokes and one-liners. Taking out entire rooms of drug dealers just to nab the coke for herself, Weaving is a certified action star.
That being said, Guns Akimbo is most definitely not for everyone. The frenzy with which the film moves, taking place over one day, and the gratuitous violence and gutter humor is sure to turn off many critics. Its embrace of mayhem and Scott Pilgrim-esque video game references are over the top and Weaving’s affinity for dick jokes is truly too much for those not a fan of that brand of humor.
Overall, Guns Akimbo is a world of fun mayhem without too much substance but near-perfect character performances and so much stylistic violence. The film also continues to solidify Weaving’s status as a genre queen, which is not to be understated.
Guns Akimbo is a world of fun mayhem without too much substance but near-perfect character performances and so much stylistic violence. The film also continues to solidify Weaving’s status as a genre queen, which is not to be understated.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.