“Gunpowder Milkshake” stars Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Chloe Coleman, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Paul Giamatti. Released on Netflix on July 14, 2021, the film has a team of assassins assisting a mother-daughter duo.
The film was directed by Navot Papushado, who also directed “Rabies” and “Big Bad Wolves” with Aharon Keshales. This is probably the type of drink you don’t want to order at a diner. With one female-led action movie done, another one is set to entertain its audience. The next film I’m looking at today features another dose of female empowerment and R-rated violence. It also sees Israeli film director Navot Papushado directing a movie independently after helming several projects with co-director Aharon Keshales. Something that we usually see from the other directing duos. Plus, the presence of Karen Gillan in the main lead could test her ability to hold an action film on her own, especially after making herself a household name thanks to her roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the “Jumanji” sequels. With that in mind, let’s see if this milkshake is good enough for action fans to drink.
The story follows Sam (Gillan), a woman who grows up to be a cold-blooded hitwoman after being abandoned by her assassin mother, Scarlet (Headey). When her latest mission resulted in her accidentally starting a gang war, Sam is forced to go on the run with a young girl named Emily (Coleman), who’s caught in the middle. She then has to join forces with her mother and her league of female assassins to protect Emily from those who wronged them. The film has plenty of elements that should satisfy the appetites of several genre fans: bloody violence, neon-infused visuals, butt-kicking women, and a couple of milkshakes to boot. It can’t be “Gunpowder Milkshake” without the “Milkshake” part, after all. If those things are what you’re craving for, you’ll easily walk out of this diner feeling refreshed. However, if you want a side of impactful storytelling to go with that order, you’re pretty much out of luck because the film is fresh out of that stuff. By following the simple basics of any other action thriller we’ve seen countless times, the screenplay failed to be as delicious as its stylized presentation. There were several moments that could’ve worked well in its plot and themes, most notably the relationship between Sam and Scarlet and even the bond between Sam and Emily. Unfortunately, the filmmakers got a bit too distracted by their goal to make it the next “John Wick” rather than make a compelling story to match the visuals. I don’t want to say that the plot is terrible or anything, but I will say that it fell short of what I think it’s attempting to portray. The film also had a few attempts at providing some “comedy” into its tone, which I thought were tolerable yet a bit awkward to witness. Aside from the story and some cheesy dialogue, was everything else suitable enough to warrant a watch on Netflix? Yes. Yes, it was. The well-deserved cherry on top of this milkshake was the visuals. Ranging from its neon lighting to the stylized cinematography, “Gunpowder Milkshake” quickly resembled something that could’ve been set in the same universe as “John Wick”. There were also a few scenes that took the pages right out of the books of Quentin Tarantino and even Zack Snyder. While the storytelling wasn’t his most vital asset, I would give props to Navot Papushado for representing some impressive shots, even though they didn’t outmatch the style of the “John Wick” movies. The rest of the drink was also quite tasty, especially the cast and action scenes. Karen Gillan managed to pull through as the main lead in terms of her respectable performance as Sam, and Chloe Coleman continues to make herself known thanks to her role as Emily. Bassett, Yeoh, and Gugino were also solid in their roles as the female assassins, although they only shine in the film’s third act. As for the action sequences, they’re nothing too special, but for the most part, they’re enjoyable…and bloody, which was expected regarding its R rating. At times, the hand-to-hand choreography and CGI blood in some scenes looked a bit rough and not in a gloriously violent way. Still, the gunfights and visualized backgrounds managed to overshadow those issues for a reasonable amount of time.
Overall, “Gunpowder Milkshake” is a delectable treat for the eyes, but when it comes to its substance, the taste is far from ever-lasting. Its visual style was easily the main highlight of this watchable action thriller, and the cast managed to follow suit. Sadly, its execution towards its storytelling and tone lacked a strong punch needed to rival the films it inspired from, primarily “John Wick”. It’s a fine drink to order for those who enjoy the genre, but if you’re hoping for it to be the next “John Wick”, don’t waste your breath because it’s not happening. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to order myself a milkshake because talking about the film made me thirsty for one.