Guns Akimbo (2019)

*. It’s not like there’s nothing to say about Guns Akimbo, it’s just that I feel like I’ve said it already. See, for the most obvious comparison, my notes on Hardcore Henry, a movie it closely resembles. This is yet another video-game movie, in this case about a code monkey named Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) who gets shanghaied into being a participant in a live streaming fight club called Skizm by having guns nailed (yes, nailed) to his hands and told to kill another contestant, a psychokiller named Nix (Samara Weaving, looking and acting a lot like fellow Aussie Margot Robbie). This he must accomplish before she kills him. Let the games begin.
*. I’ve said plenty about video-game movies already, so to avoid repeating myself I’ll just quote from Dennis Harvey’s review of this movie in Variety: “Anyone with an attention span above ADD levels . . . is likely to find this undeniably slick, energetic contraption plays somewhere between grating and numbing. . . . In a sense, it’s unfair to review Guns Akimbo by the usual grownup standards. Just as Christian viewers often complain when secular critics review faith-based entertainment, maybe this film should only be weighed by those who actually want a de facto video game in movie form. For those to whom it will be 97 minutes they don’t spend gaming, and thus attractive both as a break and for being practically the same thing anyway, it may well seem a blast.”
*. So it’s another action flick with everything cranked up to 11: very loud, gross, stupid, and violent. Meaning the sort of video-game violence that doesn’t really register. CGI blood splatters that the final level bad guy likens to Jackson Pollock. There’s a lot of off-colour badinage. There’s a techno soundtrack that repurposes various hits. “Real Wild Child,” “You Spin Me Round,” “Ballroom Blitz,” “Super Freak,” and even a final ironic bow with “Never Surrender.”
*. On the bright side, it doesn’t take itself seriously. I mean, it’s not funny, but it doesn’t take itself seriously. I think that’s what’s meant by “action-comedy” these days. It’s also very obvious in terms of its plot points, working out just the way you’d predict. There was even one appalling moment where Radcliffe has to scan the film backward to introduce a flashback so he can explain something that I had not only figured out already but was actually waiting for. Writer-director Jason Lei Howden apparently doesn’t trust his audience for being able to follow a pretty simple script.
*. Then again, I’m not sure he even likes his audience. A lot of time is spent mocking or insulting the people watching Miles on Skism. In other words, mocking and insulting the very target audience for Guns Akimbo. Maybe there’s something meta going on here that I’m missing but this seems a bit too much like biting the hand that feeds.
*. Not much point saying anything more about this one. You’re watching a video game, which is about a guy who is trapped inside a video game. It’s full of lights and bells and whistles and it twitches all over the place. You know if that’s your thing. I can’t think of anything else to recommend it. Personally, I used to enjoy this sort of thing more, but as I get older and the movies get louder and twitchier I’m finding myself increasingly put off.

2 thoughts on “Guns Akimbo (2019)

  1. tensecondsfromnow

    As one of my regular commentators woukd say; Nope. Like video games, like movies, not yet seen a movie that worked on a video game premise. There are, however, video games which work as well as, if not better than movies, but it doesn’t work the other way round, and I find these amped up films pretty dull to sit through…

    Reply
    1. Alex Good Post author

      I’m not much of a gamer, and the games I do play tend to be more the strategy ones and not first-person shooters. I feel like I’m not in tune with this sensibility, but I guess it has an appeal to a certain demographic. It’s a form of narrative that maybe some young people are more familiar with and adjusted to. Like you, I find these movies pretty dull.

      Reply

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