Film Review | Genre Fans Should Enjoy Wacky Action-Comedy Guns Akimbo

Much has been said already about the cultural influence of Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s sophomore film changed indie cinema and cinema in general in the 90s. But today we will talk about the influence of one scene. In one moment, John Travolta’s Vincent Vega leans back in the car to consult with a passenger and accidentally shoots him in the head. Brains splatter the back window. A human death becomes a 90mph sight gag. At this moment, violence on screen is not just something we can enjoy, it becomes something we can laugh at.

Whilst I won’t suggest this is the first example of death as black comedy, I feel this is the ground zero for a sub-category of movies I call “wacky violence” films. In these works, extreme violence can be laughed at or at the least mixed with different tones. These movies are post-Tarantino-esque hyper-stylized violent action/crime films that are typically self-aware to some degree. I would consider The Boondock Saints and the first works of Guy Ritchie to be early examples of this trend.

From the late 2000s on, these films become more mainstream, arguably as part of a general cultural permissiveness towards screen violence, demonstrated also by the popularity of violent television like Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. More recent examples of the trend are movies like Kick-Ass (the influence of Kick-Ass on Guns Akimbo is clear in the use of pop covers to score scenes of violence), the Crank franchise, Polar, TV’s Happy!, Kingsman and even the Deadpool films. I’ve enjoyed many of these movies to various degrees while acknowledging “wacky violence” films can have a teenage smugness about their own transgression. It must be said, however, that just when I think the trend is waning, a movie like Guns Akimbo comes along.

Guns Akimbo follows Miles (Daniel Radcliffe), a recently single man with a miserable job as a programmer at a company that makes games designed to exploit children for microtransactions. His outlet is having online arguments with trolls, with the film representing Miles as the archetypal example of what the internet would describe as a “beta male”.


One night Miles checks out the website Skizm, which scoops up criminals and killers and pits them against each other in live-streamed deathmatches. The concept is basically The Running Man updated with drone shots for the Twitch era. The leading fighter on Skizm is Nix, played by scream queen Samara Weaving of The Babysitter, Mayhem and Ready or Not fame, while the website is run by the tattooed psychopath Riktor (Irish actor Ned Dennehy – Calm with Horses, Mandy). As we get introduced to these characters, the film continues to cut to Skizm viewers and commenters.

Miles gets increasingly drunk and begins to call out the entire concept of Skizm and the viewers’ complicity in the website’s comment section. Skizm traces his IP, with Riktor and his cronies showing up at his apartment. Miles gets knocked out, briefly awaking during surgery. When he regains consciousness, he finds that guns have been bolted to his hands.

Yes, this is the movie where Daniel Radcliffe has guns stuck to his hands. Whether you enjoy this film or not will have much to do with whether you find the brilliantly goofy concept endearing or not. The film leans into the comedy of the premise, imagining what it would be like to try using the bathroom or call someone when you have guns for hands. Also, director Jason Lei Howden’s previous film was the excellent horror-comedy Deathgasm and the filmmaker does for a moment or two lean into the body horror inherent in the idea of having bolts through your flesh.

With his new gun hands, Miles is forced to play Skizm and must kill Nix or die. Attempting to escape town will have him killed. The rest of the film follows Miles’ attempts to stay alive and to fight back against Skizm.

Guns Akimbo is incredibly enjoyable. Lei Howden embraces a bigger canvas with some great dynamic camerawork and a good sense of style (it should be noted Lei Howden incidentally did not heed the film’s warning about trolling and created controversy by using the film’s official Twitter account to target journalists he accused of bullying).

The acting too is fantastic. Since his Harry Potter days, Radcliffe has proved himself as an adult actor who picks interesting projects. It is Weaving though who steals the show as the gleefully immoral cocaine-loving Nix. The character is iconic and the horror icon’s natural charisma really brings her to life. Rhys Darby of Flight of The Conchords, meanwhile, provides hilarious support in a few scenes as a homeless man who provides Miles with aid.

On the downside, the film’s twists are fairly predictable. Also, it won’t be for everyone. This is a movie where characters are introduced with stylised captions of their names which flash on-screen. As such, some will find its style overbearing. However, for those into the type of “wacky violence” film listed above, Guns Akimbo is a great time.

Guns Akimbo is on Prime Video in Ireland now.

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