Guns Akimbo – Blu-Ray Review

It’s not hard to look at Daniel Radcliffe and see one character. After all, it is a character that has been beloved by millions for many, many years (recent events aside). Not to mention the quality in which Radcliffe delivered may well define him as one of the most significant fan favorites alongside characters like Luke Skywalker, Indiana Jones, Buffy Summers, etc. That is perhaps one of my favorite reasons that Daniel Radcliffe does whatever he wants. For lack of a better explanation, he just doesn’t GAF (Google it) about what you think of his film choices. Radcliffe himself has gone on record, stating he just wants projects that interest him.  When looking at the list that followed his “Magical Beginnings” (Swiss Army Man, Horns, Imperium, to name a few), we couldn’t be happier with how it is going thus far. That brings me to the film at hand. Guns Akimbo, written and directed by Jason Lei Howden who is possibly best known for Deathgasm or his extensive career as a visual effects artist. Howden takes us through his version of an adrenaline rush packaged neatly into 1 Hour and 38 Mins.

The Film

Our film follows Miles (Radcliffe), a would-be video game developer stuck working for an app company, who is recently down and out with love and finds his only joy in baiting and embarrassing people on the internet. That’s right; he is an internet troll.  One night of trolling, he takes it too far while trolling the internet boards for the wildly popular show Skizm, an underground show which pits strangers to kill one another for the internet’s amusement. Refusing to back down, he makes the creator of the show so mad that he finds him and makes him pay.  Miles wakes up to find that he is the newest contestant on Skizm, with a gun bolted to each hand, and participation is not voluntary.  The film itself seems like one long Speed Trip. It offers humor and excitement, and you are rooting for this guy who has found himself the victim of these circumstances.  The problem is that as fun and action-packed this film is, it feels like a one and done for me. I cannot imagine later down the line I will have a craving for Guns Akimbo. The film doesn’t offer much in the way of substance.  There is some backstory to our main character, it wraps up nicely, and in the genre it lives in (which I would be hard-pressed to define too specifically), it reigns in my book as one of the best. If for no other reason than it offers a wholly original plot. Right? They haven’t made any movies where the main character is an involuntary participant of a game that is streaming to millions? (::cough:: Gamer, Death Race) Even so, those guys didn’t have guns bolted to their hands. 

 

The FIlm 3/5

 

Picture Quality

Cinematography is where Guns Akimbo starts to exceed expectations.  To pull off that adrenaline-filled speed trip of an adventure, you have to film it in a particular light. Cinematographer Stefan Ciupek has worked on some very influential films in the past as additional camera/Cinematographer support (Antichrist, Rush, Dredd, 127 Hours, Slumdog Millionaire); however, Guns Akimbo might be where he can finally make a name for himself.  It is reminiscent of fast-paced action films you may have seen in the past and feels like an iteration of films like Crank, Shoot-em-up, etc.  Guns Akimbo was shot with a particular look in mind and, even more than that, a particular look for each scene. For this reason, Ciupek went with the RED Monstro 8k camera and the whole thing was filmed in 8k and delivered in 4k.  All of this leads to one rather important question: Does it pay off? In this example, it does. The picture is vivid and wonderful even without an HDR copy of the film, we have no issues with picture clarity or contrast from one moment to the next. 

 

Picture Quality 5/5

 

Audio Quality

Enis Rotthoff has done his job here. The original soundtrack featured in Guns Akimbo is wonderful. It has a wonderful blend of eighties nostalgia and techno that makes you feel, at times, you are right in the game with Miles. That is really what we want from a soundtrack, is it not?  To help us escape into the world temporarily?  That being said, the way it was mixed left a little to be desired. I found quite a few instances where I had to be quick with the remote in one fashion or another. Undoubtedly, an issue with home editing. 

 

Audio Quality 3/5

 

The Packaging

Here we have a semi-standard slip with an image the just begs a passerby to pick it up and explore what the film is about. One thing right off the bat you may notice is that the cover has two textures. It features both a glossy finish on the Radcliffe section and a more coarse texture on the rest of the cover. I rather enjoy the odd placement of the “Blu-Ray + Digital” words on the top left section of the cover, this extends to the actual case as well, leaving more room for the artwork and less room for names and nonsense. When sliding the case in and out of the slip you will notice resistance and you will have to slide it in the top (this is, of course, a copy to copy issues but I would be shocked if you didn’t have the same issue in some fashion or another) this is upsetting I just have to think that by now manufacturers can avoid this but refuse to acknowledge this issue. It is a big conspiracy of course. Open up the case itself and lo and behold artwork on the disc as well. I would have enjoyed different art but hey I will settle for any artwork on the disc nowadays. 

 

The Packaging 4/5

Special Features

There is a lot to be said about the making of this film.  The choices in the cast, the style of filming, the genre, even the soundtrack. Unfortunately, you won’t hear anything about it here in the Special Features Menu. Well, I should mention that, yes, there is a Commentary and while I didn’t listen to it this time around, I can guarantee it doesn’t deliver the tasty extras I was hoping for in such an adrenaline field film. Beyond the standard Commentary, we do have a single featurette and a stunt exploration extra.  The special features are as follows:

 

  • Audio Commentary with Writer-Director Jason Lei Howden
  • “Welcome to SKISM” Featurette
  • Nix vs Dane Stunt Sequence Exploration

 

Special Features 2/5

Technical Specs

Video

Codec: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p High Definition

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Audio

English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles

English SDH, Spanish

Runtime

Original Film: 98 Minutes

Overall

Guns Akimbo is a fun movie. I wish you could hear the way I say that in my head. It speaks to what I feel. This was fun to watch but it is not grand cinema. It doesn’t do anything to further the industry or test the boundaries. It is fun to watch. But it doesn’t make you cry or feel much in the way for the character. Nothing profound to glean from this 98-minute journey the characters take. The one redeeming subplot is lost through the action and blood and doesn’t matter enough to even tell you about it. I’d say this is a great Friday night movie with a bowl of popcorn and a couple of beers. Beyond that, you probably won’t ever watch it again. You can purchase this edition HERE.

 

Overall 2.5/5 – Wait until it’s on sale