Written by: Navot Papushado & Ehud Lavski
Starring: Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Chloe Coleman, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett
When a specific way of life becomes all you know, it may be difficult to process things like the average person. Whether it be in an analytical sense or when you’ve been raised to be a cold-blooded murdering machine. You know, or somewhere in between. Gunpowder Milkshake hits right at this extreme and creates a wonderfully engaging and fun story while also giving some spectacular women the opportunity to kick some butt.
Raised by a hired gun and falling into the same line of work, Sam (Karen Gillan) takes care of a job but runs into the collateral damage caused by it. In trying to care for this collateral damage in the form of a little girl, Emily (Chloe Coleman), she puts herself in grave danger by coming up against the interest of her employer, the firm.
Perhaps it may be from me being obtuse, but the impact John Wick has had in inspiring films to create a world where assassins live by a certain code, have specific sanctuaries, and dress in particularly dapper ways. A whole list can begin to form and when watching Gunpowder Milkshake, it becomes difficult to not to notice the similarities. The difference, however, comes in the story centering on these women and how they work under the thumb of mysterious men. While unintentionally breaking away, Sam must now face the heat of what will come and the reinforcements she receives are out of this world.
Other than the strangely intriguing title, this film’s biggest selling point undoubtedly comes from the “older” female cast brought together to be the mentors of Sam. Yes, this provides Karen Gillan with a fun leading role, which she deserves, but it becomes difficult to do that when you get to see the likes of Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh kick a considerable amount of ass. A quartet of wonderful actors who have certainly not received their due in the roles they have been offered throughout their years, but they come together to form quite the dangerous sisterhood of women all under the guise of being librarians. The facade drops fairly quickly once the excrement hits the fan, which gives them the opportunity to unload in such satisfying ways.
As with any action movie, the violence becomes the point and it certainly goes there in this feature, even to a bit of an extreme. Where it gets into a shady area comes from a particular scene involving Sam and young Emily where the former cannot use her arms, so to escape a perilous situation via vehicle, the latter must guide the steering wheel. Inadvertently making a child kill others even when the young one has their eyes closed seems bit gratuitous even if it makes for quite the ridiculously unbelievable scene. It reminds me of those teambuilders where you guide someone to do something while one of the members is blindfolded. With very little prep time, they may have done this better than anyone in history as this particular scene would indicate.
The larger villains at play represent individuals that make the major moves in society labeled as The Firm. They essentially have no face other than the fear they strike in anyone who dares to oppose them, which means it leaves for a weak villain other than a few million henchmen sent the women’s way but the story did not want to waste any time on a male villain. Instead, it becomes more about Sam’s relationship with her mother and how the violence she has caused impacts someone as innocent as Emily. Sam, probably for the first time in her career, must reconcile with the devastating impact of her actions on others, specifically, Emily in this case. This aspect does not necessarily receive the exploration it fully deserves, which feels like a missed opportunity, but as stated before, this film is more about Sam’s relationship with her mother. Well, that does not receive much exploration either. More so it’s about the action and these women being dapperly dressed. I’m not going to complain too much.
A fun and breezy time, Gunpowder Milkshake features some ridiculous action for our entertainment with the slightest of sprinkles of emotional meaning to go along with it. Even with all of the critiques one can have about the substance of the story, it’s hard not to enjoy what this film sets out to do. The action and violence bring the necessary heat the feature wants to bring, which makes for an entertaining ride. Not much more I would want from this.