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Film / Guns Akimbo

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Guns Akimbo is an action comedy film written and directed by Jason Lei Howden. The film had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2019 and was released theatrically on March 5, 2020.

Skizm is an illegal death-match fight club pitting criminals against each other streamed live to the public, where fights can occur anywhere in the city. Miles (Daniel Radcliffe) is a nerdy computer programmer who pines after his ex-girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). One day, after dissing Skizm online, thugs break into his apartment and knock him out, and he wakes up to find pistols literally bolted to his hands. He is informed he is the next contestant on Skizm. He must kill Nix (Samara Weaving), Skizm's undefeated champion, in 24 hours. Miles will either gain worldwide fame or die at Nix's hands.

Provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: The female Nix kills upwards of 100 people by herself and at one point does so wielding a minigun and flowery sunglasses. She's also pretty skilled at Waif-Fu.
  • Action Survivor: Miles starts out as this. By the end, his gunslinging is right up there with Nix's.
  • Addiction-Powered: Nix. Her Establishing Character Moment has her snorting cocaine to power through a room full of goons, and her Heroic Second Wind has her snorting crystal meth. She also shows up to kill Miles at his apartment with a rolled up dollar bill hanging out of her nose.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The movie ends with Miles setting off to take down the many other Skizm imitators that have popped up, using the list of their identities he got from the computers in Riktor's base.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Nix, the criminally insane reigning champion of Skizm's death matches, is the daughter of the detective in charge of stopping Skizm. His plan to use Miles as bait to capture her gets him killed.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Nobody probably feels bad when Miles' Jerk Jock boss has his brains blown out by Nix.
    • The Faceless Goons collecting Miles' body make a point of mentioning that they kill people for a living before having their heads blown off
    • Miles' first kill is accidentally shooting a gang leader and assumed drug dealer in the neck
  • Artistic License – Anatomy: OK. Rule of Cool is very much in play, but the bolts on Miles' hands would prevent him from pulling the triggers on his pistols. They pass through the bone and tendons on all eight of his fingers, plus a fairly large bolt coming from the grip screw that passes straight through his palm.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: The 90 degree extended magazines on his guns would in reality be quite unreliable. While theoretically rounds can be fed through a 90 degree bend as depicted in the film, that's mostly used in bottlenecked cartridges which neither the 9mm parabellum nor the 45 ACP his 1911 variants come chambered in are. In addition, because guns are bolted to both of his hands, in the event of a stoppage (highly likely due to the aforementioned feed issues) he would be unable to work the action on his own to clear the stoppage and his pistol would essentially become dead weight.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Miles is Blown Across the Room by gunshots, then later a pistol shot to the shoulder somehow sends him spinning through the air head over heels.
  • Ate His Gun: Miles attempts to do this after his first encounter with Nix. A homeless man talks him out of it, as the angle would just blow his face off while leaving him alive and in agony.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The villains attached the guns to Miles' hands to force him to fight, but he has a hard time even opening doors like this. Not to mention even more basic tasks, such as dressing himself or going to the bathroom.
  • Axe-Crazy: Everyone except Nix who joins Skizm does it for the thrill of carnage.
  • Bald of Evil: The Big Bad Riktor is this.
  • Bad Boss: Riktor is also this. He even gets dirty looks from his employees when he requests a chopper for two while Nix and Miles are cutting a bloody swathe through his facility. And that time he strangled the director to death...
    • A much less serious example would be Miles' boss. He's an asshole.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Riktor is killed and Skizm has ended in Shrapnel City, however the game has now become an international franchise with fights happening all over the world. Having recovered and scarred from the incident, Miles decides to dedicate the rest of his life to destroying the criminal organisations that succeeded the franchise, while Nova published a comic book to promote him as a hero despite not getting back together with him due to the trauma of witnessing him beat a man to death.
  • Blood-Spattered Innocents: By the end Miles is hardly innocent, but it starts to become a Running Gag of having people get killed in close proximity to him, spraying him with blood.
    Miles: Why do people keep dying on me?!
  • Bottomless Magazines: Downplayed. Miles may have extended magazines attached to his guns, but they have a limited count (50 on each hand) that runs out throughout the movie. By the end of the film, Miles runs dry at the worst possible time.
    • Played With for Nix, who's frequently seen reloading but also often fires more bullets than her weapons realistically hold. She is also shown running dry a few times and opting to drop the gun and pick up a defeated mook's instead.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Miles does not react well to cops leveling guns at him.
  • Broken Bird: Nix, thanks to a childhood trauma when she barely survived a car-bomb that killed her mother and brother, followed by a life of violence and drug abuse.
  • Damsel in Distress: Miles's primary motivation in the second half of the film is to rescue his kidnapped ex-girlfriend.
  • Determinator: Miles absolutely will not stop after he gets the Bulletproof Vest, despite by his own admission suffering from severe internal injuries and suffering multiple gunshot wounds (including several that cause him to be Blown Across the Room).
    • Nix is beaten to near death and is barely able to stand, lost her fingers and has very visible skull fractures, but she still charges head on even as she gets riddled with bullets.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Despite successfully saving Nova, Miles does not get back together with her.
Miles: In real life, watching your ex pistol-whip a guy's teeth out gives you PTSD, not a raging lady boner.
  • Dirty Cop: After arresting Miles, the cops refuse to remove the guns from his hands or even take him to the hospital and instead intend to use him as bait. One of the cops, Stanton, kills his good cop partner Degraves as he reveals himself to be The Mole working for Skizm and the reason why the police were unable to stop the games all this while, before sending Miles back into town to continue the fight.
  • Disney Villain Death: After Miles delivers a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Riktor, Riktor is left hanging for his life on the rooftop, and Miles shuts him up by feeding him Nix's middle finger before knocking him off to his death. And unlike most Disney movies, we actually see him hit the ground with a sickening splat.
  • Do Wrong, Right: When Miles is about to eat his gun, a homeless man tells him not to... because the angle would leave him alive and in agony. (It's hard to get the angle right when your guns are bolted to your hands.)
  • Enemy Mine: Defied. Miles tries to persuade Nix to work with him to take Skizm down. She says no and attacks him. They DO team up later, toward the end of the film, however.
  • Epic Fail: The final showdown. Miles has followed Riktor to the roof, gets lectured on how it's all because of him bolting the guns to his hands that Miles became somebody special, and Miles snaps a one liner and goes to kill him with his last bullet... Only for him to miss by a frickin mile.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Degraves is a shady cop who doesn't follow protocol and Nix is a ruthless multi-murdering drug addict, but the former just wants to bring his daughter in and, when he dies, Nix is devastated to see her father's body, and it's what convinces her to team up with Miles.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. Nix is obviously appalled upon learning Miles does not have any form of criminal records in the police database and is puzzled why would Skizm make him a target, but nonetheless still goes through with her assignment to kill him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Riktor is so hammy he could be sold by the pound.
  • Fingore:
    • Miles is horrified to see bolts and screws through his hands and fingers to hold his guns in place.
    • Nix loses a couple fingers when she tries to catch her own throwing knife being thrown back at her.
  • Flipping the Bird:
    • The director at the beginning of the movie flips off one of Riktor's henchmen while being strangled to death by Riktor.
    • Nix tries to flip Miles off with her missing finger. Miles is confused until she picks the severed finger off the ground and holds it where it should be until Miles finally gets it.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The guns have humorous graffiti on them that is easiest to view with freeze-frame.
  • Freudian Excuse: Nix watched her family burn to death in a car explosion, caused by Riktor as revenge against her police officer father for arresting him. The trauma made her violent and unstable, and she subsequently fell into drug abuse and petty crime before being locked up at 13, at which point Riktor found her and forced her to become a star Skism competitor.
  • Gamer Chick: Nix is/was apparently this before Skism, since she makes references to video game tropes and seems to base her strategy on what would work in a video game, and the flashback to her near death experience shows her playing a handheld console.
  • Groin Attack: During Miles' and Nix's assault on Skism headquarters, Nix dispatches a number of mooks by shooting them in the nether-regions with a high-powered rifle. Even Miles draws the line here:
    Miles: Really, ANOTHER dick shot? Oh, God damn it, please. Why do you have to keep doing that?
    Nix: What? I would have shot YOU in the dick if the target wasn't so small!
  • Gun Fu: Nix is an avid practitioner.
  • Guns Akimbo: Not only right there in the title, but enforced (the guns are literally attached to Miles' hands with screws) and played in every narrative way possible (for laughs (Miles can't even put on his pants), for horror (the aforementioned screws) and drama (it's Miles' only way to fight)).
    • Nix dual-wields submachine guns, and Fuckface uses dual Desert eagles as his weapons of choice. Effie also does this with shotguns. In general, it seems like wielding two guns simultaneously denotes a high Power Level in the movie's world.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In as much as she can be called "heroic," Nix blows herself up in order to kill a bunch of mooks that had her and Miles pinned down, so that Miles could rescue his girlfriend and kill Riktor.
  • Humiliation Conga: Because he can't put down his guns, Miles has a really difficult time doing tasks like opening doors, driving, and even putting his pants on.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Nix makes repeated digs at Miles for being a nerd, especially during the scene when they first meet at his apartment and she sees his collection of merchandise. She still makes many video game references and even references Masters of the Universe, indicating she's more nerdy than she lets on.
    • Throughout the film, Skism's audience are shown heckling Miles for being a loser because he has no idea what he's doing and is running for his life. None of them are exactly badasses themselves.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Miles being able to hit anything at all with his gun-hands is this. Nix is also able to mow people down with automatic weapons while wielding them one-handed, or even dual-wielding them. Averted sometimes where Nix should have easily been able to put a bullet through Miles' head, but... just misses. In the early running, note how many times she just shambles around and reloads in obvious exasperation. This could be attributed to her just toying with him a bit, because he's obviously been set up to be an easy mark.
    • Averted when Miles aims his last bullet at Riktor and misses horribly.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy : Throughout the film, Nix proves to be an extraordinary gunfighter and fighter, but whenever she tries to kill Miles, using automatic weapons, her aim becomes atrocious.
  • Large Ham: Riktor.
  • Made of Iron: At one point, Miles flies through the windshield of a car in a head-on collision, then through the windshield of the other car opposite his, and... rolls out onto the street right after, no worse for wear. There's also the fact that he can function with a dozen some odd metal bolts through his hands and fingers without being hindered by the excruciating agony this would likely cause. Nix also qualifies, as the same car collision also leads her to be thrown off her motorcycle dozens of feet down the road, and she also gets up without apparent injury (not to mention the gruesome injuries she walks off later on in the movie).
    • This is first mentioned when Miles is kidnapped, when he gets belted and everyone is surprised that he's still upright. Dane is even surprised as "this usually works". Miles also wakes up during the surgery (before getting smacked yet again) showing that whilst he's never been tested before he can take a huge amount of punishment.
      • Plus of course, he has two fucking guns bolted to his hands! He never once whinges about how painful it is.
  • Memetic Mutation: In-Universe. Miles develops a fan following of people who revel in his misery. The film even uses real life meme pages that sprung up from leaked promo stills of the film.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Played with. Riktor has both male and female Co-Dragons, and Nix sacrifices herself so that Miles can live, but of the people Riktor kidnaps to motivate Miles to fight, Miles's male friend from work is killed before Miles even knows he's been kidnapped, while Nova is successfully rescued at end.
  • Skizm is an underground deathmatch organization that forces people who downloaded its cell phone app to fight each other to the death and stream the fight to and take bets from other app users.
  • Named Weapon: Nix's pistol is named "Kindness", while Miles' guns are "Lefty" and "Righty" respectively.
  • One Bullet Left: Miles, after killing Dane. He wants to save it for Riktor but there are a lot of other mooks still to get through.
  • Police Are Useless: Taken up to 11. The combat between Miles and Nix is being livestreamed to hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of a city yet the police seem totally clueless and unable to find either of them. Nix in particular is supposedly a known violent criminal who is wanted by the authorities, but is able to move around freely with zero visible police response, even after firing a rocket launcher in a public park at one point (again, at a drone that was broadcasting everything live over the Internet to a huge audience). Miles is eventually apprehended, but he has to literally call 911 on himself to accomplish it.
    • Later justified when it turns out that the cops are corrupt and in on the whole deal.
    • Before this, Nix, one of the most wanted criminals in the country, is able to walk into the police station via a Paper-Thin Disguise and acting as suspicious as possible, access and download police files, and walk out without anyone noticing.
  • Primal Fear: Nix is afraid of fire following the way her family died, she just seizes up at the sight of it. Naturally, it used against her at multiple points in the film.
  • Protagonist Title: Miles ends up being dubbed the Guns Akimbo guy when he becomes famous throughout the internet.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Nix is sympathetic, but she's also become a crazed murderer. She sacrifices herself in the end to take down the Skizm HQ.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: When Miles asks one favor too many, the homeless guy asks if Miles wants him to wipe his ass too... to which Miles replies that it would actually come in handy.
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Miles starts the movie in his robe, a tank top, boxers, and fuzzy tiger slippers. This is justified as he was kidnapped in his pajamas and afterwards has literal guns bolted to his hands so he can't dress himself in anything else.
  • Shout-Out: a big part of the film's video game elements:
    • Bumping into a guy crossing the street causes Miles to drop gold rings like Sonic the Hedgehog.
    • Miles's shelves are full of a variety of collectibles from various anime franchises.
      • And, weirdly enough, at least three big vinyl '90s toy repros from Last Resort Toys.
    • Nix punctuates her Heroic Second Wind by raising a claw hammer into the air and shouting "I Have the Power!"
    • When discussing her AA-12 shotguns, Riktor's Dragon mentions she was going to get them done in the same cammo pattern as Royce's AA-12 from Predators
    • A hammer-wielding mook says "Stop! Hammer time!" quoting MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This." After Nix gets a Heroic Second Wind in the same fight, the soundtrack plays Rick James's "Superfreak," the riff of which was sampled for "U Can't Touch This."
    • When Miles dives into a clothes bin, "Corpse-Fondler" comments on the message board "Thought I was watching a deathmatch, not a fucking game of hide-and-seek." Unfortunately for Miles, Nix has a LOT more experience playing that game.
    • At one point, Riktor kills his director for not doing his job the way he wants, and for saying him and his men "look like a bunch of Streets of Rage bosses".
  • Stealth Pun: One of the words written on Nix's guns is "Kindness". She literally kills people with Kindness.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In the end, Miles reaches out toward Nova, but she recoils in horror. In the narration, he notes that, unlike what you might expect from movies, watching him beat a man to death and throw him over a building caused Nova to get PTSD rather than a "lady boner," so they don't end up together.
    • When he first (accidentally) fires one of his guns in his apartment, the extreme volume of the shot in an enclosed space causes Miles to throw up. He even narrates how most action movie heroes would end up spending the rest of their films talking in sign language if they maintained realism in their firefights.
  • Take That!: the film takes a shot at people who enjoy watching Youtube Prank videos and other online content that purports to be real people tormenting or being tormented by others for the entertainment of the viewer by constantly cutting back to the people laughing and cheering at Miles' misfortune via the Skizm app
  • This Loser Is You: Miles has a dead end job, an ex-girlfriend he still pines for, an abusive boss, and spends his nights as an internet troll drinking until he passes out.
  • Title Drop: On top of it being a Protagonist Title, the In-Universe comic book based on the events is called Guns Akimbo.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The arrogant Skizm director at the beginning of the film insults and talks down to Riktor and his mooks, who are all obviously Axe-Crazy and very violent. It doesn't end well for him.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Not food exactly, but Nix really loves cocaine. In fact it's partially how she's able to function; she takes enough to induce an adrenaline rush before every action scene, and even uses it to get a Heroic Second Wind.
  • Unexplained Accent: The homeless man has a Kiwi accent and lives in a city where everyone else speaks with an American accent.
  • The Unfought: Fuckface (the tall intimidating guy wearing a gimp mask) gets blown up by Nix's explosive suicide attack before he has the chance to do anything.
  • The Unintelligible: One of Riktor's henchmen always wears a leather fetish dog mask, rendering every word he says muffled and nearly impossible to make out.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Riktor does not take losing well.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: In the final showdown, Nix and Miles become something of this; they constantly insult and criticise the other, but she also then performs a Heroic Sacrifice to give him a chance and the two seem to have developed a Fire-Forged Friends situation.
  • Waif-Fu:
    • Nix is played by the slender and 5'5 Samara Weaving, but she takes down mooks twice her size. Somewhat more believable as she primarily fights using Gun Fu rather than hand-to-hand, and the one time she does fight someone while unarmed, she gets beaten half to death and is only able to win the fight via a cocaine-induced adrenaline rush.
    • Miles himself is played by the physically unassuming and rather short 5'4 Daniel Radcliffe, but similarly by the end of the film he's became a One-Man Army. Like Nix this is largely through Gun Fu and mostly just getting back up every time he gets hit, but he lacks any of her combat experience to explain his remarkable pain tolerance.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Shrapnel City, presumably a stand-in for New York. The film uses the skylines of multiple different American cities in establishing shots.