Daniel Radcliffe, The Internet, and a Bit of the Ultraviolence in “Guns Akimbo”

Daniel Radcliffe, The Internet, and a Bit of the Ultraviolence in “Guns Akimbo”

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Guns Akimbo is a strange movie.  It’s a movie that could have been an utter disaster in the wrong hands and with the wrong lead.  Instead, the film achieves an attention-grabbing style and they landed Daniel Radcliffe for the lead.  Radcliffe reached the height of stardom as the boy who lived, Harry Potter, in the beloved Harry Potter franchise. Over eight films adapted from seven books we watched him and his friends grow through adolescence into professional adults. Many child actors rarely become stars or remain relevant in their adult years. So, you could say that not only Harry Potter, but Daniel Radcliffe, are the boys who lived.

Radcliffe received very comfortable checks for those films giving him the opportunity, were he to choose, to never work again. Instead, for the past decade, he has starred in off klter, strange, and exrtremely unique indie films. In one of my personal favorite films, Swiss Army Man, Radcliffe plays a corpse who washes ashore just in time to distract a man from killing himself. The corpse comes slowly back to life allowing the suicidal man to contemplate the beauty and meaning of life.

While Guns Akimbo may lack that type of heart, the extremely entertaining and highly stylized action makes up for it. The film takes place in a world where there is an illegal underground live action game called Skizm, where people with criminal records must battle and kill each other to win. Radcliffe plays Miles, an online moderator trying to weed out trolls. On one seemingly average nights the game’s administrators send him a threatening message.  Later those admin members break into Miles’s apartment, knock him out, screws two guns into each of his hands and force him into the game by assigning him an opponent, Nix, the game’s number one player.  Radcliffe has to live out the film with limited mobility in his hands, forcing him to wear a ridiculous outfit: a white shirt, boxers, a robe, and tiger paw slippers.

What I liked most about Guns Akimbo, apart from the action, was the depiction of online culture. The game brings the worst in people, both the players and the viewers. The viewers are depicted throughout. Some are basement dwellers munching on junk food, some are pent up business men, some are homeless crack smokers. The movie cuts back to the same lineup of viewers from beginning to end as if these people spend all day and night in front of their screens absorbing the ultraviolent nature of the game.  The style of the film is also similar to the style of the 2009 film, Gamer. Many characters are disheveled, are tatted from head to toe and have dyed or wildly styled hair. It’s as if the entire world is made up of just punks. The camera moves quickly with chaotic energy representing the fast pace that the world, just like our world, is constantly moving in.

While Guns Akimbo goes to absurd places it also holds up a mirror of sorts on our own reality. The internet is where people let out their hateful and vitriolic opinions with lack of judgement and with a sense that there is no coincidence to be had. Many real world celebrities have quit Twitter due to users’ expressions of racism, sexism and complete lack of respect for people they can’t see. Most people would never go up to someone and start telling them how ugly or overweight they are, but when given a screen and the advantage of anonymity, they quickly become monsters.

I enjoyed the movie’s world and wanted to explore more of it. Radcliffe gives a convincing performance of someone who is both scared by but also desensitized to the violence around him. He’s someone who’s spent enough time online to be familiar with the monstrous nature of people and to see the violence of Skizm streamed live, but at his core is a human just like you or me who doesn’t want to be part of the deadly reality. While Guns Akimbo doesn’t have the emotional substance of something like Swiss Army Man there is still a ton of fun to be had with this film, and Radcliffe is a big part of that enjoyment. This reviewer recommends it if you enjoy him and want to see an action film that’s a bit different from most things out there.

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