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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Guns Akimbo (MA) - 97 minutes

At a time when millions of people around the world are streaming e-sports content every day, it's not hard to imagine a possible future with the blood-sport insanity of Jason Lei Howden's Guns Akimbo.

Nerdy videogame developer Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a little too fond of stirring things up on the internet with his caustic, prodding and antagonistic comments.

One night, he makes the mistake of drunkenly dropping an inflammatory barb on a broadcast of Skizm, an illegal death-match fight club streamed live to the public.

In response, Riktor (Ned Dennehy), the maniacal mastermind behind the channel, decides to force Miles' hand (or hands, as it were) and have him join the "fun".

Miles wakes to find heavy pistols bolted into his bones and learns Nix (Samara Weaving), the trigger-happy star of Skizm, is his first opponent. To make matters worse, she is at his front door.

Echoing elements of Edgar Wright's Scott Pilgrim vs the World, the Purge franchise and videogames like Smash TV and Mortal Kombat, Guns Akimbo is hilariously dark, viciously violent and chillingly prescient.

Howden foretells of a future that may soon await us: drone-captured live feeds, UFC-like competitions pushed to an extreme and online streaming platforms used for gladiatorial entertainment all around the world.

As Miles navigates the underworld of Skizm, the stakes – and the ratings – have never been higher.

Writer and director Howden has created an action film with a protagonist who really didn’t want to be an action hero.

Miles is someone who hates violence and is anti-guns – just a regular guy – who is forced by the most bizarre of circumstances to learn to fight.

Incidentally, the title is drawn from the fact that dual wielding or akimbo is the skill of using two weapons – one in each hand – during combat.

An anarchic thrill ride, set in the gamer universe, Guns Akimbo brings with it real attitude.

Provided you bring an open mind to a screening, you can appreciate it as much as any of the Marvel superhero adventures.

It is over the top violent, clearly ridiculous and punctuated by heavy lashings of humour, much of it jet black.

What more could a high-octane gamer want?

At its core is a mild-mannered singleton looking to win his girl back.

He is sick and tired of being bullied at work by his overbearing boss, Glenjamin (Rhys Darby), who revels at every opportunity to pick on him.

Daniel Radcliffe brings an everyman sensibility to the role of the IT specialist who gets in way over his head and that works most effectively.

By contrast, Nix adopts a take no prisoners approach – shooting everything in sight. She is the ultimate kick ass bad girl.

I also had an affinity for Miles’ ex-girlfriend, Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), who is drawn into a situation she has no knowledge of.

There’s a pack mentality in terms of how fans of the live game egg on the combatants – baying for blood.

I also liked Dennehy as the real villain of the piece, aided by a particularly effective make up job.

In spite of Guns Akimbo’s innate stupidity, you find yourself invested in the outcome – a sure sign the movie is working.

Quite frankly, it really surprised me.

Director Jason Lei Howden has done a fine job with the material at hand, crafting an eminently watchable satire of popular culture, aided by the efforts of Radcliffe in particular.

Rated MA, it scores a 7½ out of 10.


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