Imagine waking up to find to a pistol crudely bolted to each of your hands. Makes using a phone, toilet or doorknob pretty tricky. This is the challenge faced by Daniel Radcliffe’s character Miles in the video game worshipping schlock film Guns Akimbo from Kiwi writer/director Jason Lei Howden. In this, the follow up to his first cult classic film “Deathgasm”, Lei Howden explores our relationship with technology, the world of gaming, and the cult of fandom surrounding it. In interviews the director has described The Running Man with its televised violence and the Terminator as key influences.
The film begins with some coding, akin to The Matrix, but it’s a different member of the Weaving family in this one – Samara, as Nix – the champion killer of an underground fight club known as Skizm.
“You sit on your computers, liking pictures of smiling babies, sharing inspirational quotes, but what you really want to see is death. You click on horrific news headlines – violence, destruction, terrorism, war – because it makes your shitty little lives seems that little bit less shitty. Wanna go viral? Skizm is the virus”
When Miles, who works as a programmer for a mobile phone game studio, makes inflammatory comments on a Skizm video, he is targeted by the gaming overlord who sends goons to Miles apartment in downtown “Shrapnel City” (with Munich and Auckland serving as shooting locations), to involuntarily sign him up to a Skizm match. His opponent? Nix, a substance abusing veteran of almost 50 kills who should have no trouble dispatching the mild mannered Miles.
On their first encounter as Miles comes out of his apartment to meet his ex-girlfriend Nova, Nix is on her way to kill him striding down the hallway with a dollar bill jammed in her nose.
He pleads his case. She laughs at his toy collection and from there the film runs the gamut of being a live action film version of Fortnite, along with some social commentary thrown in as fans gawk on via “Twitch” styled streaming platforms.
The film delivers plenty of action as Miles and Nix battle each other, as well as trying to bring down the sadistic boss level baddie behind Skizm, who it turns out has a past that connects many dots in the story. The movie is also rich in laughs, with Rhys Darby as a homeless man helping Miles a highlight.
All in all this should be a delight for fans of cult films and video games. It is pretty bonkers, doesn’t take itself too seriously and delivers a blood soaked slab of action.
3 & 1/2 Stars – Ultra Violent & Super Funny