Written by Ehud Lavski and Navot Papushado
Directed by Navot Papushado
Starring Karen Gillen, Joanna Bobin, Freya Allen, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Ed Birch, Paul Giamatti and Ralph Ineson
Three generations of women fight back against those who could take everything from them.
The opening of Gunpowder Milkshake takes place in a 50’s style diner where the family dynamics between Sam and her mother play out as the mother must leave the daughter who is already immersed in her parent’s deadly world of assassins and mobsters. Everything from the 50’s aesthetic to the close ups of guns reveals what you are in store for in this film. It’s a fun opening that pretty much sets up all the dynamics for the rest of the film.
Sam grows up and becomes part of the same organization her mother was a part of before she left her in the care of Nathan (Giamatti). Sam is contracted to retrieve money stolen from the firm and doesn’t hesitate to take the mission because this life is all the she knows. When she arrives and shoots the man responsible, things get complicated when he reveals that he took the money to pay for a ransom to return his daughter Emily (Chloe Coleman). Sam must decide whether to return the money or attempt the rescue the girl. Her decision and its consequences move the story forward.
Putting Sam at odds with both the firm and the kidnappers, she turns to three old friends of her mother who work at the local library in this nondescript pseudo-European city. There she gets weapons and finds herself fighting her fellow killers sent to bring the money back as well as the agents of a rival organization from her previous mission that resulted in the death of the leader’s son. In other words, it’s Sam versus the small world of this movie.
That’s pretty much all the plot that the film requires because ultimately, none of it really matters. The rest of the movie is car chase, shoot em up, fight scene, shoot ’em up, etc. Mixed in are family drama provided by the returning mother Scarlet (Headey) and interpersonal drama between Scarlet and the other librarians that is never really explored. With the exception of the four leads, every other character just serves as someone to punch or shoot and that’s where the film actually shines. Gunpowder Milkshake isn’t trying to be deep or meaningful in any real sense, it’s a stylish action flick that moves from action beat to action beat showcasing the power and prowess of its leads.
The fights are actually beautifully choreographed and fun to see. The lead actors sell every moment well despite the lack of development or character evolution. There are some huge conceits to overcome like the fact that there seems to be no one in this city except the characters, but that’s not a huge issue. Ultimately, the film wants the viewer to be impressed with its world and its mysteries and succeeds. Unfortunately, the things that don’t work are glaringly obvious and the fact that every character minus the leads is so forgettable and interchangeable is a problem.
Gunpowder Milkshake is a fun action thriller that has some great fights and shoot outs, but never gives much beyond its surface style and story. It’s a fun watch, but ultimately forgettable.