Guns Akimbo

guns akimborating 2.5There's something that immediately felt off about Guns Akimbo. It looked slick, in its way, while also feeling cheap and shoddy. Even before Jason Lei Howden attempted to bury his career (and this movie) with a Twitter meltdown, you had to wonder where he's going wrong. It felt like he's just cobbling together his idea of what a cool movie looks like from a bunch of other films. It had a cast full of strong actors who felt like they were wasted on the hokey material. The writing is pure amateur material, while the budget obviously isn't. If it weren't for the easily palatable action throughout and typically excellent performance by Daniel Radcliffe in the lead role, it'd be very hard to recommend in any capacity.

From the beginning, I could tell that a lot of the movie's concept is heavily lifted from Wanted, a meek office drone with a domineering boss wasting their life in irrelevance, medicating themselves (I suppose to show how physically weak they've let themselves be), and bumbling through their first dangerous encounters with violent, beautiful women. (The slow-motion "flying keyboard keys" scene is even recreated in an early fight.) To spoil this mostly mediocre experience, I'll add that the movie even ends with the beautiful and dangerous woman sacrificing herself to get the male former-nebbish past a room full of enemies so they can reach the final fight. The final moments show the male lead, now hardened and confident, ready go mete out his justice all over the world. It's not the same movie, but it echoes loudly.

Not that it isn't lifting from a variety of sources. There's touches of different films and styles throughout. Gaudy neon Suicide Squad color schemes, self-indulgent fight scenes where Samara Weaving's ostensibly-untrained mental-ward-escapee Nix ninjas her way through the movie with an absurdly brutal efficiency that would put John Wick and Deadpool to shame (while being a poor man's Harley Quinn, spouting vulgar non-sequiturs in a way only an edgelord teenager would find entertaining), a view of internet culture and hacking that wouldn't be out of place on an episode of "NCIS", every scene featuring some terrible cover of a recognizable pop song (which are all apparently done poorly by 3TEETH, truly the worst things I've heard out of a band I already didn't like, especially to have to hear a shitty cover repeated more than once)... If you accept that the whole movie is an absurd, cartoonish, unbelievable gag that you can't be invested in on any intellectual level and can only enjoy for the adolescent sense of mayhem, it still feels very standard and unimpressive. The fact that it has relatively amusing moments, good actors mostly trying their best (Rhys Darby is amusing and Ned Dennehy chews through several movies' worth of scenery as the villain), and is watchable despite the stupidity and the completely by-the-numbers plot (down to the entirely predicatable "twist" and ending) makes it at least a passable and quick watch, though it's not going to rank on anyone's list of favorites unless they're a 14-year-old who hasn't seen any movies made in the past 20 years.