Miles is stuck in a dead-end job, still in love with his ex-girlfriend Nova. Unbeknownst to him, a gang called Skizm is running a deadly competition within his city in which complete strangers fight to the death for the entertainment of an online audience of millions. Miles soon finds himself caught up in the game and forced to fight in a battle to the death. Initially, Miles’ lifetime of running from his problems pays off as he manages to elude his first opponent but when Nova is kidnapped, he must finally stop running and overcome his fears to fight for the girl he loves.
Let’s talk about Daniel Radcliffe for a moment. He is so far removed from his Harry Potter character at this point, and I think he is a fantastic actor. He makes interesting choices in selecting roles, and often takes risks – maybe they don’t always pay off, but at least he’s challenging himself – check out Horns and Swiss Army Man for good examples. Guns Akimbo is also a good example of Radcliffe stepping out of the box.
This is a stylish and violent film that works on a number of levels. It’s a modern take on the “human hunting” theme that has been done a number of times (The Running Man and Hard Target spring to mind), but it’s anchored in modern YouTube/reality tv/video game culture.
Written and directed by Jason Lei Howden, who is most notable for visual effects work on superhero movies, the script is original and enjoyable. The directors style is very modern and stylish, and really compliments the movie. I guess that when a director puts his own script to use, they really have a connection to the material, and that translates to the screen. It certainly does here.
Radcliffe is perfectly cast as the reluctant “fighter” and an unrecognisable Samara Weaving is absolutely fantastic as his main adversary. Rhys Darby also has a small, yet funny role, and Ned Dennehy is great as the big bad.
A film like this was never going to be a box office hit, but it has all the potential to be a cult classic in the VOD market. As I’m currently stuck at home, I stumbled across it while looking for something to watch, and I’m glad that I did, because I loved it.
Seek it out, and get lost in a very unreal movie.