“Underworld assassins hiding in plain sight” has evidently become a pretty common studio pitch these days, and “Gunpowder Milkshake” is the latest to jump into the game, to overall mixed results. With a confetti-like color palette and committed performances by its leading ladies, “Gunpowder Milkshake” doesn’t quite blow the doors off the hinges, but lands just this side of decent when all is said and done.
Karen Gillan leads the movie in the role of Sam, while Lena Headey plays her estranged mother Scarlet, and Chloe Coleman portrays the young girl who comes into their care, Emily.
Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh portray a trio of Scarlet’s old associates, Madeleine, Anna May, and Florence, with Paul Giamatti playing the villainous Nathan, overseer of the underworld organization known as “The Firm”.
15 years ago, Sam’s world was turned upside when she learned that her mother Scarlet was an assassin, along with finding herself orphaned shortly thereafter when Scarlet had to flee town after a botched hit.
Sam would grow up to become an assassin herself for her mother’s employer, The Firm, and her latest job tasks her with retrieving embezzled money, only to discover that the thief stole the money to pay off the ransom for his kidnapped daughter.
After getting the thief to a hospital owned by The Firm, Sam’s efforts to rescue his kidnapped daughter Emily ultimately leads to her finding herself at war with The Firm, while meeting her mother for the first time in years and joining forces with a group of her former allies.
The title “Gunpowder Milkshake” is nothing if not an accurate shorthand for the movie it’s attached to. The movie looks like a Dick Tracy comic filtered through a cotton candy machine, and it doesn’t want for gunpowder either.
Still, as the “John Wick” brethren it’s been likened to, “Gunpowder Milkshake” leaves a bit to be desired. For being as colorful as it is, “Gunpowder Milkshake” doesn’t have as much of an emotional hook as one would expect in Sam’s efforts to protect Emily and her reconnection with her mother after fifteen years.
The cast, especially the three librarians, largely play the movie as very dry and tongue-in-cheek without veering into zaniness, but that ends up being a lot more jarring than one might expect.
Inventive Action Scenes
“Gunpowder Milkshake” is essentially the Mona Lisa rendered in primary colors, clearly a clashing of tonal opposites, and one that’s both bound to be hit and miss for individual viewers, and one that the movie itself is curiously comfortable with. The action scenes, while not out of this world, are certainly inventive.
Leading Lady Karen Gillan, (aka ‘Ruby Roundhouse’) gets some Good Fights in!
Karen Gillan gets in a few good fights in a bowling alley along with holding her own against a trio of pursuers with her arms immobilized and in a parking garage car chase with the same handicap. While creative in their own way, they don’t quite hit the kind of bruising impact of her Ruby Roundhouse role in the “Jumanji” movies.
Lamentably, after swinging swords like there’s no tomorrow in “Master Z: Ip Man Legacy” a scant two years ago, Michelle Yeoh is simply way too underutilized for being cast in an assassin movie no less.
With that said, the last stand in the “library” is the guns-blazing showdown viewers paid to see and the movie doesn’t skimp on that. With the tease of more adventures with Sam and co at the end, the performances of Gillan, Headey, and their co-stars does make “Gunpowder Milkshake 2” a decent enough curiosity.
“Gunpowder Milkshake” isn’t particularly groundbreaking, but it’s a passably fun concoction of candy-coated hand-to-hand and ballistic action.
While seemingly unsure of whether it wants to be a light-hearted action romp or a somber revenge thriller, it’s creative in its action scenes and its cast are all in as a gun-wielding girl gang. One thing’s for sure – no one will ever get “Gunpowder Milkshake” on false advertising.
- “…And an Agatha Christie…for reading.” – Madeleine (after Sam is handed several books with guns hidden inside.)
- The movie was filmed between June 3 and August 13, 2019 in Berlin.
- Despite playing the mother of Karen Gillan’s character Sam, Lena Headey is actually only 14 years Gillan’s senior.
- In France, the film is known as “Bloody Milkshake”.