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  Guns Akimbo His Hands Are Armed
Year: 2019
Director: Jason Lei Howden
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Samra Weaving, Ned Dennehy, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Grant Bowler, Edwin Wright, Milo Cawthorne, Mark Rowley, Racheal Ofori, Set Sjostrand, Rhys Darby, Graham Vincent, Tim Foley, Richard Knowles, Aaron Jackson, Josh Thomson, Jack Riddiford
Genre: Comedy, Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a bit of a prig who is dismayed at the behaviour and preferences of people on the internet and wonders why we cannot simply be nicer to one another and not, for instance, get addicted to live streams of a new game called Skizm. This follows contestants like Nix (Samara Weaving) who last night won another victory when she was involved in a high speed car chase cum gun battle which ends with her opponent getting shot to death and blown up on the highway. Miles is determined to make the audience realise their poor life choices and makes it his mission to troll the trolls with self-righteous vigour. Until one day, the organisers of the game turn up...

When the trailer for Guns Akimbo appeared online, it generated quite a buzz among action flick fans looking for the kind of entertainment they got with the Crank films, starring Radcliffe's fellow Brit trying a wavering American accent, Jason Statham. Now, Statham you can see as an action hero, and the bad taste he sometimes surrounds himself with goes along with his unruffled persona because we can see he can handle himself in a fight. Mr Radcliffe? Eh, not so much, though if anything he was willing to try out wilder material than many of his contemporaries, possibly thanks to making his fortune early and not needing to worry about box office returns: he was famous enough.

That was for you-know-what, so he managed to get some pretty unusual movies made simply by signing onto them, and that was to his credit, since he took chances and seemed to enjoy doing so. With this, on the other hand, while he showed his usual dedication to his roles, and while it had the apparently killer premise of the bad guys bolting guns loaded with fifty bullets each to his hands then sending Nix after him, there was a problem with tone. It might sound in description a bit of bloody, blowy-uppy fun, director Jason Lei Howden had a message he wanted us to learn, and that was "The internet can be bad for you!" If this was news to you, then you might get along with this movie.

As Miles frantically tries to escape, he is being tracked by drones filming his every move (well, almost) which ends up on the laptops and phones of the millions of viewers he was previously criticising. We see them in cutaways, obnoxiously getting off on his humiliation, and are supposed to realise, wait a minute, those victimising morons were us all along! If you've ever trolled someone online, presumably you will be suitably chastened by this development and never do it again, yet the more likely reaction would be to reject the finger-wagging and resume your activities, because if there's one set of people who don’t like being told what to do, it's the bullies. So who did that leave as the target audience? Those who ignored the lessons anyway?

Howden packed the ninety minutes or so with action, but the problem of its protagonist's self-righteousness being carried over to the man writing the screenplay and sitting in the director's chair was that most action fans don't watch these movies for their morals, or rather they do, but only in the simplest manner. We want to see evil punished and wrongs righted, the strong sticking up for the weak, yet Miles merely takes over the mantle of the violent thugs with nary a hint of irony, leaving us wondering what his objection to Skizm was in the first place when it's basically given him more of worth to do in the past day than in his whole life. Throw in cliches like the girlfriend Natasha Liu Bordizzo purely present to be kidnapped, and for all its flash Guns Akimbo was a lot more hackneyed and conservative than its supposed liberalism would have you believe, and the director's bizarre behaviour since it was made could put many off. You may feel as if you've watched this under false pretences. Music by Ennis Rotthoff.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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