Sunday 5 December 2021

Movie Review: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

A wild action thriller, Gunpowder Milkshake is a stylish, over-the-top battle fest celebrating girl power. 

Samantha, or simply Sam (Karen Gillan), is an assassin for a shadowy organization known only as The Firm. Her latest job ends in a bloodbath, and one of her victims is the son of powerful gang boss Jim McAlester. 15 years earlier, Sam's mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), also an assassin for The Firm, had to disappear after one of her jobs ended badly.

Nathan (Paul Giamatti) is Sam's handler, and he issues her next assignment, to retrieve money stolen by an accountant. She arms herself with guns provided The Firm's "librarians" Madeleine (Carla Gugino), Florence (Michelle Yeoh), and Anna May (Angela Bassett). 

After Sam kills the accountant, she learns he only stole the money because a vicious gang held his young daughter Emily (Chloe Coleman) hostage. She gets involved to save Emily, disobeying Nathan's orders. With McAlester seeking revenge and The Firm turning against her, Sam is in a lot of trouble, but Nathan provides some support by arranging a surprise reunion.

Gunpowder Milkshake features many good girls with many big guns (and assorted other weaponry), battling many bad guys with just as many big guns (and assorted other weaponry). Director and co-writer Navot Papushado crafts a feminist action extravaganza bathed in surreal neon and ultra-abstract sets, channeling Tarantino, Woo, and Leone with unfettered passion.

The plot is almost irrelevant, providing just enough of a string to hang the thrills on. The dialogue scenes focus on establishing a sorority of women, mother-daughter bonds, and surrogate parent relationships. Sam is the node around which her mother, the three librarians and Emily revolve, creating three generations of strong and morally sound women battling to rid the world of men either faceless, evil, or both.

The levels of violence and the action set-pieces are wildly enjoyable at the cartoonish level. The exquisitely choreographed highlights include a hospital battle between Sam and three goons, her arms paralyzed by a serum while the villains are compromised by laughing gas and a previous altercation. This is quickly followed by a cat-and-mouse parkade duel with young Emily (eight and three quarters of a year old) at the wheel. Papushado leaves the best for last, a linear, slow-motion beauty of a single-shot gun-down at a supposedly neutral diner.

At 114 minutes and with next to no genuine narrative depth, the energy does start to flag. A battle at a library goes on, and scene after scene of bone-crunching combat with the women mowing down an army of men get repetitive. But with cool attitude to spare, Gunpowder Milkshake is unapologetically always craving the next explosive slurp.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

1 comment:

  1. I agree it goes a bit longer than it needs to. Cut this down to a trim 96-100 minutes and I like it probably half a star better.


We welcome reader comments about this post.