Director: Navot Papushado
Writers: Navot Papushado and Ehud Lavski
Starring: Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Chloe Coleman, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Paul Giamatti
Originally announced in 2018 Gunpowder Milkshake is a female led action film about a hitman, Sam (Karen Gillan, Doctor Who) who goes rogue and ends up seeking the help of her estranged mother, Scarlet (Lena Headey, Game of Thrones). Together they try to take down The Firm, and survive the onslaught of violence and carnage.
This film is full of style. The bright neon colours, the milkshakes, the gun library. It feels like a comic book that’s been brought to the big screen. It’s over the top in the best way possible and the action is simply fantastic. This is a stylised film, from start to finish. When Karen Gillan first walks on screen in a trench coat, hat and cloaked by shadows with a voice over introducing you to the world, it feels like a 1940s noir film. It then gets bloody and almost instantly switches to a bright neon filled diner serving milkshakes. The whole film feels out of time, like it’s set in a parallel universe. When Lena Headey says she’s ordered an Uber, it’s a shock that Uber exists in the world.
The diner has a no guns policy, the library has guns hidden in classic books and the hospital has a giant chest, shaped like a tooth, to store guns in. Similarly, to the first John Wick film there is an entire universe that is being built up slowly in Gunpowder Milkshake and it doesn’t explain everything straight away. The film perfectly gives you enough to understand the story, but not too much to make it boring. At the end you still feel like there is a lot to explore and with confirmation of a sequel on the way, that’s a great feeling to end on.
The action is fantastic. Director Navot Papushado knows how to direct action sequences. The choreography in the fighting is superb and the gun-fu is awesome and entertaining to watch. There is a sequence late in the film where the camera glides alongside the action in slow motion, with blood flying everywhere and a lot of characters moving about on screen, it’s just a joy to watch. There are so many exciting and over the top moments, including a fight where Gillan’s arms are paralysed so she must swing her body around to shoot people. It’s silly and fun.
Sadly, the film does outstay its welcome. The action is always fun, but the characters aren’t interesting enough to justify the film being almost two hours. If they trimmed it down to 90 minutes this would be an almost perfect manic and energetic action film. There’s just too much of it. It does pick up again towards the end, but it does feel like it should be shorter, if the characters were better developed then it could get away with it, but they’re not so it doesn’t.
Gunpowder Milkshake is a stylish and fresh explosion of action and violence. It’s wonderfully shot, with brilliant set pieces and funny moments. The world is interesting and strange and hopefully the sequel will bring only good things.