Imagine the following situation: One morning you wake up and someone has drilled big fat screws through your finger joints to attach two big guns – each with exactly 50 rounds of ammunition – to your hands! What a horrible thought, because how the hell are you supposed to operate the touch screen of your cell phone? (Spoiler: with your nose, of course.) But the real nightmare starts at the urinal anyway: Not only can’t get a good grip on your wiener, you also have to be very careful not to shoot the crown jewels off yourself (and yes, you can see Daniel Radcliffe’s – probably prosthetic – Harry Potter in the corresponding scene).
More than ten years after “Crank” and “Shoot ‘Em Up”, New Zealand filmmaker Jason Lei Howden now presents his own hyperkinetic, super-brutal high-concept-actioner with “Guns Akimbo”, who first of all attracts attention with his completely wacky pistol-pawed premise! But even if the following one and a half hours come up with some pretty sick ideas and an almost incomprehensible number of head shots, “Guns Akimbo” never achieves the irresistible frenetic flow that characterizes the above-mentioned role models – and if you’re not mercilessly carried away and thrown around like in a washing machine, it’s much easier to notice how flat and pubescent the wildly brutal round dance is in many moments.
It is not easy for Miles to comply with the cops’ request to drop the guns – the things are screwed to his hands!
Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) would like to develop really cool video games. But instead, it’s only enough for a job as a programmer for a free-to-play mobile game with a totally cute squirrel. The single, who still stalks his comic-strip artist ex Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) on Instagram, reacts to his frustration online in the evening: In commentary columns he badgered Internet trolls, only to delight in their predictably back-pumping insult tirades. But then Miles gets the wrong person with his provocations …
… namely to the super criminal Riktor (Ned Dennehy), who operates the real murderer live stream “Skizm” with his organization: In this stream some criminals or psychos compete against each other in a duel, while the whole world watches in front of their laptops and cell phones (so quasi “The Running Man” meets “Nerve”). And now Miles – with his freshly screwed on pistols – becomes an involuntary candidate. From now on he has 24 hours to finish off his opponent Nix (Samara Weaving)…
“GTA” says hello
The film takes place in Shrapnel City – based on the fictional city of the same name from the provocative macho shooter “Duke Nukem 3D”. Nevertheless, the first scene, in which Nix and her skizm opponents from cars shoot around with a minigun, among other things, is much more reminiscent of the newer representatives of the mega-franchise “Grand Theft Auto”. Even when a “Rambo 2” poster hangs in Miles’ living room and a Jean-Claude Van Damme firecracker saves his life at one point, Jason Lei Howden quotes on a visual level above all the common stylistic devices of video games – from free-rotating camera movements to virtual insertions and extreme slow motion. The only problem is that this happens very inconsistently – a continuous staged flow never develops, instead most scenes stand alone. And then, as is often the case, some work, others break apart.
By the way, the video game aesthetics are also adopted in the depiction of violence – and so in the shootout scenes there are usually very similar CGI blood fountains. Basically this decision certainly fits into the visual concept – but of course the provocation wears off pretty quickly and after the fifth shot in the head (so already in the first minutes) the hyper violence on display loses its effect drastically. A (possibly intended) criticism of the toxic gamer culture falls flat in the meantime, because of the scenes in which different viewers of the skizm stream are faded in, not a single one of them is even halfway credible or unmasked.
Miles denies much of his involuntary adventure in a bathrobe: Is this what the FSK-18 version of “Ditsche” looks like?
Fortunately, “Guns Akimbo” doesn’t take itself seriously – and who would have believed ten years ago that we would see Harry Potter poking for half a discarded hot dog with his hands between a licked meth bag and a used condom? So the whole thing is at least appropriately entertaining – even if some silly things like underlaying the carnage scenes with deliberately inappropriate pop songs are quite (over)exhausting.