Mladen and Del review ‘Guns Akimbo’

Image courtesy of Saban Films and Mega Agency.

“Guns Akimbo” Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Ned Dennehy. Directed by Jason Lei Howden. 1 hour, 28 minutes. Rated R. Amazon Prime.

Mladen’s take

“Guns Akimbo” is largely a crappy movie, but I’m giving it an A. Here’s the sole reason by analog. The movie works with the premise that the internet is the equivalent of a blowjob by a mouth with acid saliva and fangs dripping neurotoxins. To stretch the analog, the blowjob will feel good for the first few seconds because the recipient hasn’t yet realized that he’s about to lose his member. That’s the internet for you. Ooh, Facebook is so neat. Look, I can share pictures of me and my family with anyone and that anyone turns out to be a scammer, pedophile or Putin bot telling you to join Proud Boys or Oath Keepers to make the world safe for democracy.

Yes, Del, I’m getting to the summary.

Miles (played by Harry Potter) is a loser coder who online insults a Dark Web show called Schizm – think first-person shooter with the shooters and their victims real persons. Offended Schizm creator Riktor (Ned Dennehy) and his goons kidnap Miles and surgically attach a pistol, one for each hand, to him with nuts and bolts and nails. For Miles to get de-pistoled or save his somewhat ex-girlfriend from Riktor and his sadistic clan of internetters or whatever, he has to whack Schizm’s reigning champion, Nix (Samara Weaving). Violent hijinks unfold with Miles at one point ranting into web-connected cameras that all this death and mayhem and cruelty and voyeurism happens because people keep watching it. The death and mayhem and cruelty and voyeurism are all your fault, Miles yells. The Schizm fans responded with a “Fuck you.” Maybe they knew Miles was one of them before he became a pawn in the non-virtual aspect of the web show, real death.

One way of describing “Guns Akimbo” (2019) is by noting it’s “The Truman Show” (1998) with a lot of cussing, blood splatter, casings ejected from receivers, and explosions. But, where Truman is funny and charming throughout, “Guns” doesn’t get funny or charming until Miles and Nix ally to destroy Riktor. Regrettably, that comes toward the end of the film.

Mostly, “Guns” is dour without achieving sardonic, which I believe was one of the director’s goals. Along with reminding me of “Truman,” “Guns” is tinged with “Judge Dredd” (2012) and “Sin City” (2005). Another seeming influence? Possibly, “Shoot ’Em Up” (2007), an underrated, though equally demented, movie.

“Guns”’ production quality is good, though the blood splatter looked like blobs of red gel departing plastic containers rather than liquid forced from skulls disrupted by high velocity projectiles. The film’s score matches its frenetic violence. The soundtrack is good, too. It’s a combination of classic rock-disco-pop (e.g. “Super Freak,” “You Spin Me Round”) and newer stuff. I added “When the Shit Goes Down” to my “It Ain’t No Use” playlist.

See “Guns Akimbo” because its heart is in the right place. The film states plainly that the internet is dangerous because we humans have no self-control.

Del’s take

Your potty mouth is showing, Mladen. No more R-rated movies for you.

As for “Guns Akimbo,” my impression is this: It’s a bloodier, filthier, funnier version of “Horns.”

I have finally trained Mladen, after years of shaming, to summarize the plots of movies we review so you know what “Guns Akimbo” is about. Suffice it to say if you have seen “Horns” you will appreciate a couple of things:

1. Daniel Radlcliffe seems hellbent on pursuing quirky, offbeat roles that will define him as a young turk.

2. “Guns” aspires to be as quirky and offbeat as Radcliffe’s aspirations but falls short of the mark.

As comedy it’s hilarious. The characters are hilarious as caricatures of stereotypes, if you choose to view them that way. The script is hilarious. Even the sight gags are hilarious – picture hapless Radcliffe fleeing the bad guys with pistols bolted to his hands, his bunny slippers flopping and his bathrobe flapping. I thought it was funny, the way a 12-year-old boy – and some retired journalists – find accidental farts to be funny.

 As commentary it’s a shallow swoop as it becomes the very thing it criticizes, and I doubt director Howden meant that as a meta critique. The message of “Guns” is that the internet sucks and it’s letting our inner assholes off the leash. Well, yeah, tell me something I didn’t know.

Is “Guns” entertaining? Oh sure. I watched it start to finish, which is unusual for me. These days I’m usually nodding off then jerking away to find drool running down my chin long before Jimmy Fallon hits the air. But is “Guns” sophisticated storytelling? Nah, not that it tries to be. Howden seems content to produce a flavor of the moment and “Guns” will not have the staying power of, say, Cool Ranch Doritos.

Mladen soft-pedaled the violence. Sure, it was presented in the larger guise of humor, but Jesus Christ it was violent. I’m at a loss as to how Mladen can fuss about a single violent scene in “The Hunter” and laugh off the relentless torture and bloodshed of “Guns Akimbo.”

I don’t like casual cruelty because (a) it’s not entertaining, (b) it’s immoral and uncivilized, and (c) it desensitizes the viewer to real violence. That’s my theory. I’m sticking to it despite the grief all those “Fuck you” viewers may give me.

Mladen must have channeled his inner Antifa Bake Sale chairman to give “Guns Akimbo” an A rating. No, folks, it’s not an A. It’s clever. Production values are good. Acting is admirable. But it’s bloody and violent. There’s nothing new about its message. And 10 years from now it will be nine years past its shelf life.

I give it a B-.

Mladen Rudman is a former journalist and technical writer. Del Stone Jr. is a former journalist and author.