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Jason Lei Howden
Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Rhys Darby
Writing Credits:
Jason Lei Howden

A guy relies on his newly-acquired gladiator skills to save his ex-girlfriend from kidnappers.

Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 98 min.
Price: $19.99
Release Date: 4/28/2020

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden
• “Welcome to Skizm” Featurette
• “Stunt Sequence Exploration”
• Previews


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Guns Akimbo [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 4, 2020)

Over almost a decade since he last played Harry Potter, Daniel Radcliffe has mainly avoided big budget flicks of that sort. This indie path finds him in 2019’s quirky action project Guns Akimbo.

A website called “Skizm” arranges battles to the death and streams them online. Computer programmer Miles Harris (Radcliffe) fashions himself as an Internet-focused anti-troll warrior, and he uses that platform to attack those behind Skizm.

This turns out to be a mistake, as Miles makes the wrong enemies. They force him to play the deadly game, one that reaches even higher stakes when the baddies abduct his estranged girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo).

As mentioned, Radcliffe finds himself cast in fairly small projects most of the time. Outside of a supporting role in 2016’s Now You See Me 2, his post-Potter filmography seems light on true multiplex fare.

Whether or not this stems from Radcliffe’s choices remains up for grabs, though. Short, average-looking guys don’t usually develop into “A”-list actors, so Radcliffe may prefer leads in smaller films over secondary parts in big-budget fare.

And I can’t blame him for that, as it seems better to be the fish in the small pond. Another diminutive alumnus of a major franchise that started in 2001 – Elijah Wood of Lord of the Rings - seems to have taken this same path, for better or for worse.

In the case of Guns, Radcliffe finds himself somewhere between better or worse. While a sporadically interesting film, it never quite clicks.

That’s partly because it tries so darned hard to entertain. The movie shoves so much action and comedy at us that it feels desperate, and there’s a contrived vibe to the project.

In addition, Guns often feels like little more than a conglomeration of cinematic influences. Boy, do we get a slew of obvious nods to other films!

This means the whole thing feels like different movies tossed into a blender. Deadpool, Kingsman, Kick-Ass, Crank, Die Hard and plenty of others make themselves known via this intensely derivative film.

All of this means we get nary a shred of originality. The movie can’t find its own identity, as it constantly reminds us of its predecessors.

I wouldn’t mind that so much if Guns managed more of a positive impact, but it seems hyperactive for its own sake. We get little feel for the characters, and I feel like the flmmakers never wanted to slow the action because they feared the audience would bail without non-stop mayhem.

Some of the action does connect, but the longer Guns runs, the less effective it becomes. The incessant violence turns repetitive and lands in the category of diminishing returns.

Guns also never offers a convincing entry in any of its genres. It doesn’t really work as an action flick or as a parody or as a comedy. It dabbles in all three but fails to connect in any of them.

The biggest issue with Guns simply comes from the notion that we’ve seen so many glib, ironic, ultra-violent action movies. Deadpool would seem to have cornered that market, so other takes on the genre need to find something fresh.

Guns Akimbo can’t do so. While not a terrible flick, it becomes a chore to watch after a while due to its repetitive nature and inability to find its own identity.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B-

Guns Akimbo appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a well-rendered image.

As expected, sharpness worked well, with only minor softness in some wider shots. The majority of the flick boasted accurate delineation.

The movie lacked jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also never materialized.

To the surprise of no one, Guns opted for a teal-heavy palette that also threw out splashes of orange and amber. Given the production decisions, the hues looked appropriate and full.

Blacks seemed deep and dense, while low-light shots appeared smooth and concise. Though not dazzling, the Blu-ray replicated the source in a positive manner.

In addition, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack boasted an immersive affair. With a slew of action scenes, the soundscape blasted to life on many occasions.

This meant a lot of room for mayhem, with vehicles, guns and explosions that engulfed the viewer. The soundfield added impact to the proceedings and used the various channels to strong advantage.

Audio quality also satisfied, with speech that came across as natural and distinctive. Music appeared bright and bold as well.

Like one would expect, effects dominated the proceedings, and they fared nicely, with accurate, tight material that showed deep bass as appropriate. The soundtrack brought out the anticipated powerful sonic experience.

A few extras fill out the set, and we open with an audio commentary from Jason Lei Howden. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and effects, music, and related topics.

Though he creates a moderately informative track, I can’t say Howden ever excels in the format. He does bring us a decent view of the film, and some parts fare better than others.

For instance, Howden alludes to conflicts with the producers, especially as it appears they forced him to use music he didn’t want. These moments intrigue, but most of the commentary remains pretty average.

Welcome to Skizm runs 13 minutes, 49 seconds and offers notes from Howden. We learn about influences and the movie’s origins/development, cast and performances, characters, stunts and action, costumes, sets and locations, and camerawork. Inevitably, some of this repeats from the commentary, but Howden still offers a good overview.

We also find a Stunt Sequence Exploration that spans four minutes, four seconds. It features a few notes from Howden but mostly offers a side-by-side look at stunt choreography tests vs. the final film. That makes it a fun addition.

The disc opens with ads for Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and Come to Daddy. No trailer for Guns appears here.

An instance of style over substance, Guns Akimbo might work better if that style seemed more compelling. Instead, the film offers a glib, superficial mix of action influences without its own identity. The Blu-ray brings good picture and audio along with a handful of bonus features. The movie entertains much less than it should.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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