Guns Akimbo (Digital HD)
Check out our review of Daniel Radcliffe breaking bad in Guns Akimbo!
This review covers the Digital HD version of the film, which is also available on Blu-ray and DVD.
Video game developer Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is kidnapped and forced to compete in an underground survival game live-streamed online. With guns bolted to his hands, he must avoid being killed by Nix (Samara Weaving), a crazed killer at the top of her game. Written and directed by Jason Lei Howden.
Guns Akimbo is best enjoyed late at night, as you consume Mountain Dew, spicy ramen, and pork rinds. Actually, an adult beverage might be required to truly get in the right mood for this absolutely insane dark comedy/shoot-em-up.
Starring Daniel Radcliffe as a likable millennial slacker (that might be an oxymoron) on the run for his life, Guns Akimbo is a frenetic action comedy that takes clear aim at our culture’s social media-obsessed narcissism. That layer of deeper meaning, however, is absolutely buried under a noisy cascade of violence and slick camera work.
Radcliffe plays Miles, who is forced to play a survival game called SKIZM, in which he faces a choice: kill or be killed. With pistols bolted to his hands (don’t ask how he’s able to shoot through the pain, he just does), he has to face off against Nix (Samara Weaving), all while their fight is livestreamed on the internet.
A reluctant Miles is then chased by Nix around town, camera drones in tow. Bullets fly and bodies drop by the dozens. The first casualty, of course, is logic, as no one seems overly concerned about the rolling gun battle throughout the city. The only ones that do care are the millennials cheering on the bloody mayhem as they view it online.
Weaving channels Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn whenever she’s on-screen, and that’s not a bad thing. Weaving’s an engaging personality, and although her character isn’t blessed with the best writing, she injects enough fun into her performance to make it interesting.
We also get some appearances from some solid actors, including Rhys Darby (the Jumani films) as a crack addict and Grant Bowler (the highly underrated “Defiance”) as a police detective.
Guns Akimbo feels like a movie you’ve seen before – and it’s not because it’s paying homage to other films. It takes a lot of familiar elements and mashes them together into something fairly new. It may not be original, but it’s never boring. Credit Radcliffe and Weaving for that.
The dizzying camera work and on-screen video game graphics all hit the right tone – the “Vs.” announcements that pop up before fight scenes (that nod heavily to Street Fighter) are a nice touch. It’s loud, bloody, and obnoxious to be sure, but somehow maintains a twisted sort of charm.
The film could have actually benefited from being a bit more cartoonish and outlandish. It tries to be a John Wick-style actioner at times, but it works best when it finds its groove as an obscene Looney Tunes-styled massacre.
The tongue-in-cheek approach helps to explain away the huge logic gaps, but they are so obvious it actually hurts my head to try to call them out. Be sure to do yourself a favor and don’t think about it. Just enjoy the ride.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Note: Video and audio quality for digital films can vary due to bandwidth restrictions.
Overall, the video presentation is quite good, but a bit inconsistent. The film was shot digitally on a RED Monstro 8K camera and finished in 4K. Traditionally-shot scenes look great in 2K high definition, with deep color representation and fantastic details. Scenes in low light and at night show nice distinction between black levels.
While most of the film looks great, for digitally manipulated scenes, the image goes surprisingly soft. Several fight scenes featuring CGI-enhanced slow-motion and sweeping camera angles are almost blurry in some shots. It’s likely the result of poorly-rendered visual effects, but it is worth noting.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is effective, especially during the film’s fight scenes, where a number of songs (from Rick James to AKA Block) are nicely supported by the deep bass of gunfire. The channels are moderately active, and dialogue is crisp and clear.
Note: the Blu-ray version of the film includes a DTS 5.1 soundtrack.
Although the Digital HD version of the film we reviewed did not include bonus features, Lionsgate has announced that the Blu-ray will include the following features.
- Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden
- “Welcome to SKIZM” Featurette
- “Nix vs. Dane Stunt Sequence Exploration” Featurette
DIGITAL HD SPECS
- Release Date: 4/28/2020
- Running Time: 98 minutes
- Rating: R
- Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
- Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1
- Subtitles: English for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
- MSRP: $21.99 Blu-ray and Digital, $19.98 DVD