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Gunpowder Milkshake – Review: A Fun Action Film That Showcases the Skills of Karen Gillan

July 15, 2021

Quick thoughts: Grade – B – Gunpowder Milkshake is a wild ride full of unique action scenes, fun performances, and a dark sense of humor. After starring in the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jumanji films, it’s neat seeing Karen Gillian carrying her own action film. 

Directed and written by Navot Papushado (watch Big Bad Wolves), Gunpowder Milkshake tells the story of what happens when a group of well-armed male gangsters attempt to kill Sam (Karen Gillan) an assassin who went rogue during a mission, saved a child from kidnappers (long story), and accidently killed a rival crime lord’s son during a prior “botched” job (basically, she’s pissed a lot of people off). The problem is, Sam is the daughter of a famed assassin named Scarlet (Lena Headey), who disappeared 15 years ago, but still managed to train Sam in the art of murdering people with ease. Thus, when Nathan (Paul Giamatti), a middle-man for a powerful crime syndicate, starts sending out hired henchmen to kill her, they are all killed in hallway fights, parking garage chases, and bowling alley brawls Eventually, things get really crazy when Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson), a rival crime lord, whose son was killed by Sam, sends out his henchmen to finish the job. The added manpower forces Sam to reconnect with her mom, and head to The Library, where Florence (Michelle Yeoh), Anna May (Angela Bassett), and Madeline (Carla Gugino) help her murder more people.

Gunpowder Milkshake does a fine job of creating various action scenes that all feel unique. During one scene, Sam doesn’t have control of her arms, so she has a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman) tape weapons to her hands. Another brawl plays out in super slow-motion and features eye slashes, head shots, and exploding windows. The stunt coordinator Volkhart Buff (Hitman: Agent 47, The Grand Budapest Hotel), and fight choreographer Laurent Demianoff (Warrior Nun, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan) do a solid job of creating different fights that don’t feel repetitive, and allow Gillan, Headey, Bassett, Gugino and Yeoh to shine. 

The German locations all look excellent, and they fit well with the stylized look created by cinematographer Michael Seresin (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Step Up). Also kudos to costume designer Louise Frogley (Contagion, Bull Durham, Ant-Man and the Wasp) for creating memorable costumes that fit the look of each character. It’s neat seeing Gillan beat up people while wearing a bowling jacket (that fits perfectly), and watching Gugino murdering henchmen while wearing a purple pastel cardigan. 

The biggest weakness of Gunpowder Milkshake is the script by Papushado and Ehud Lavski. Yes, it creates a neat world full of familiar elements (which is totally fine, action movies have been stealing from each other since the beginning), but the stylized dialogue never feels totally organic, and occasionally plays like a screenwriter was writing something “cool.” Aside from a few cringe-worthy lines of dialogue, the movie is an absolute delight that will hopefully build a big audience and stay Fresh on the Tomatometer (it’s currently at 67%). 

Final Thoughts: Gunpowder Milkshake is a lot of fun, and is worth a watch.

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