An insane adrenaline rush that successfully bridges the gap between modern and old-school action.

Social media can be bad for us, who wouldn’t agree. But an app that allows you to watch deadly duels between insane criminals live on your phone is unthinkable, right? Jason Lei Howden, who landed an incredible debut with the horror action comedy Deathgasm, embraced this macabre promise and created Guns Akimbo from it. Let’s check out if his sophomore film delivered the goods for action aficionados!

Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) doesn’t get much excitement out of his life apart from “trolling the trolls” on the user forum of Skizm, a criminal organization that broadcasts videos of armed killers going against each other in the city. His online efforts earn Miles a visit from the Skizm crew, and a few hours later he wakes up with two guns bolted to his hands. He is forced to join the game, and put up against Nix (Samara Weaving), a coke-sniffing, trigger-happy maniac.

We’re Gonna be the Starbucks of Murder, the McDonalds of Massacre!

The overarching plot is a variation of the Running Man scenario, that is updated with some scathing commentary on the state of people’s minds in the age of social media. The modern gladiators go for likes, and the hate-filled online abyss is the perfect place for Skizm to conduct its business, where the worst things are just a click away. 

The audience laughs at the losers, admires the winners, but above all, craves the killings. In a time where almost everything you can find online has become mundane, watching the Skizm matches becomes are rare source of true excitement. The film moves at such a breakneck speed, though, that you won’t get much time to reflect on all this, maybe in a second viewing. 

Radcliffe is great as mild-mannered IT nerd, who gets a whole load of unflattering millennial cliches attached to his character. The vegetarian, oversensitive and unassertive Miles is a fan of old-school action movies, and enthusiastically pitches the comic book character Man-Man to his girlfriend.

You could go dick shot, then head shot, then dick shot, mix it up a little

These contradictory attitudes are suddenly resolved when he forcibly gets a huge boost in manliness by having two loaded guns bolted to his hands. While being great for quickly killing lots of adversaries, the transformation is not convenient for normal life activities. This gives rise to many practical jokes, when Miles tries to use his phone, put on his pants, or goes on the potentially castrating endeavor of using the toilet.

Psycho killer Nix is the antithesis to Miles, and Samara Weaving nails her character with a fantastically extrovert performance. This cynical bad-ass is the real action hero(ine) of this film. Miles’ and Nix’ interactions are terrific, two worlds that clash violently, but slowly converge towards each other as the film progresses. 

I’ll sit you down nice and easy, and then shoot you in the fucking brain stem

Nothing is subtle about this film, definitely not the action. The many shootouts are filmed with hyper-fast and furious editing in the vein of classics such as Crank and Hardcore Henry. Nix and Miles kill hooded minions by the dozens, and thanks to the comic-style violence we get lots of laughs out of people dying in incredibly bloody ways, at least I did. Nothing is really groundbreaking regarding the action sequences, but they are shot with a lot of creativity and quirky visuals. The industrial setting, a dark neon look, and a Synthwave/Industrial Rock soundtrack create the perfect vibe for all the mayhem.

With Guns Akimbo, Howden created an insane adrenaline rush that successfully bridges the gap between modern and old-school film-making featuring brutal action, corny jokes, and traces of food for thought.