Written and Directed by Jason Lei Howden
Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Ned Dennehy, Grant Bowler, Edwin Wright, Rhys Darby
Guns Akimbo is the kind of movie that likes to have its socially conscious cake and eat it too. It’s hero, Miles Lee Harris (Radcliffe), is a keyboard warrior who no doubt will inspire many of his kind that they can be action heros, yet decry violence.
In this skewed reality of a near future, there is a Running Man type game that has attracted an immense popularity. Our “hero” debates online chatters of the game and trolling online trollers. He’s also the kind of soft guy who appreciates how his ex-girlfriend (Liu Bordizzo) made him better, and will accept whatever decision she makes. About the same time he re-establishes contact with her, he also hears back from Riktor (Dennehy), who runs the Skizm game.
Then he falls asleep. And we should too.
When he awakes, he is assaulted by Riktor and his gang. Next thing he sees is guns bolted into his hands (aka Guns Akimbo) with 50 shots each. From what little I know, there are no handguns that could hold 50 shots, especially when there is a bolt running through the handle where the shots would be held in the gun’s magazine. The bleeding is minimal in each finger and his palms.
From here, he is pursued by Weaving’s Nix. We know she’s badass, because she’s killed people remorselessly and has done much to disfigure her natural beauty. But not so much we can’t tell she’s really a good person.
Before we have a chance to wonder, we’ve heard her backstory and understand completely that the two supposed adversaries will work together to fight a common foe. Her skill is obviously there to help push the supposed pacifist Miles over the hump when he faces real baddies.
Radcliffe is here as an apologist warrior. He will succeed, but only after he makes sure he doesn’t offend anyone. Which is off-putting to say the least. We watch movies to get away from BS like this, not to be mired in it while pretending to make fun of it.
One particularly annoying segment has Miles asking a homeless man (Darby) if he can spare something to eat. The man comes up with a half-eaten hot dog. Miles then asks:
“Do you have a vegetarian option?”
I have to work with people like this. I don’t need them near my entertainment. Particularly because they are not entertaining in the least. They are the people that make their version of “saving the world” well known and at the expense of others. No thanks. Go bug another bum for some celery.
Unfortunately for Radcliffe, this is the perfect role for him. In a world where members of the Harry Potter cast bend over backwards to remove themselves from things said by their author, he is in a tough position. His bold choices have to avoid ticking any boxes for the easily offended. Sometimes this path yields good, like Swiss Army Man. Other times, we have to remember he walks a line older actors never would.
So we get a gross out shoot’em up that is made for the intersectional woke masses, if there really are any out there. The reviews for this film have been pretty positive, so I guess it’s going to be considered cool, until it is forgotten.
For me, I will stick with Running Man. It’s dumb too. Just not as preachy. And I will hold out for filmmakers who are actually bold, and not just gross and silly.
(* out of *****)