I don’t think anyone predicted the kind of career that Daniel Radcliffe’s had, after the Harry Potter series finished most thought he was an okay actor, not as good as Emma Watson but better than Rupert Grint, and maybe he’d make some bland rom-coms or the odd network tv show. But no, he’s chosen some truly bizarre projects like the astonishingly bizarre (yet amazing) Swiss Army Man, the weird supernatural flick Horns and the very funny TBS tv series Miracle Workers, along with appearances in Bojack Horseman and 2 Dope Queens, and that’s why I secretly love him.
Now he’s taken on the lead role in this crazed video game-esque action madness from Jason Lei Howden, the writer/director of 2015’s excellent Deathgasm. It’s an extremely daft but very fun affair where an underground fight club called Skizm exists, an illegal organisation which gets psychopaths to fight each other while they film it and stream it online as the shittier members of the public watch and comment upon it. Daniel Radcliffe’plays Miles, a good guy who trolls the live feed insulting those who enjoy the violence, but the people behind Schizm track him down, knock him unconscious, and the next thing you know he wakes up with guns fused in to his hands and has to fight for his life against a kick ass murderer called Nix (Samara Weaving).
There’s also a minor subplot involving Miles’ ex-girlfriend Nova (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) who gets kidnapped by the head of Skizm, Riktor (Ned Dennehy, ridiculously over the top but absolutely delightful with it) while we get to see various viewers initially mocking but slowly becoming fond of Miles, in some light social commentary which makes the whole thing more appealing. Plus Rhys Darby pops up for a cameo and is as funny as he usually is, and Nix and Miles begin interacting in an unexpected manner, making it less predictable than you might imagine.
Most of it is big set pieces as Nix tries to kill Miles and he somehow survives though, and it’s here the film really excels. It has the energy of the Crank films (a massive compliment, by the way, as I love those insanely ridiculous movies) and to a slightly lesser extent Hardcore Henry and Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It’s stylishly directed with flair and so never stops being visually appealing, while the script matches the onscreen madness by being witty and knowing, with some fun observations found within Radcliffe’s narration and Weaving’s complex villain who soon becomes just as likeable as Radcliffe is.
There’s really no downside here, it’s just a hell for leather, all kinds of excessive and overblown slice of action nonsense which contains many a funny scene or line, some superb performances from all involved, and doesn’t let up from start to finish. In a genre which is all too often predictable and bland Lei Howden has made a notably inventive, enjoyable piece of insanity that will have you grinning throughout, and it’s perfect turn off your brain and just watch the fireworks fare.