Does Karen Gillian’s Gunpowder Milkshake slay all the boys in the yard?
Gunpowder milkshake is directed by Navot Papushado and stars Karen Gillian as Sam, an assassin for hire, working for a mysterious organisation imaginatively called ‘The Firm’ with Nathan (Paul Giamatti) as her handler. She was abandoned as a 12yr old child when her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) also an assassin, had to go into hiding following a botched job.
The ‘Milkshake’ in the title refers to the diner where Sam always shared a drink with her mother following a job and it was also the last place she saw her mother before she disappeared.
Action films tend to go in one of two directions. They either approach with grand save the world ideas or ludicrous over the top plots to create higher stakes in an effort to be taken seriously as a ‘film’. Then there are those which simply wish to provide a few hours of action, fun and entertainment. Gunpowder Milkshake sits firmly in the second camp.
This is a film which doesn’t try to take itself too seriously, despite having heavy weight actors like Paul Giamatti, Angela Bassett, Lena Headley and Michelle Yeoh. But just because it’s not taking itself seriously doesn’t mean it’s ‘silly’ in any way. A simple story about a professional hit gone wrong, an 8yr old girl needing protection and employers turning on their employee. It’s been done a thousand times before and sometimes better so let’s not dwell on that
Director Navot Papushado has borrowed from others in the genre (like most action films do) with some of their influences seen clearly. There are some ‘film noir’ vibes in the first act and even some elements of Kill Bill in certain moments. Regardless, I found the package as a whole quite entertaining as Navot still tries to infuse these elements into his own.
Karen has talked about how much work she put into the training and how bad she was at the start. The hard work paid off as the action scenes are convincing showing Karen as competent and believable mid ranged action star. The action is well shot, thankfully avoiding the popular style of ultra-fast action scenes. The gun play and general combat are of the standard and quality you would expect from this type of movie.
There are some innovative set pieces including one where she is unable to use her hands to fight or drive which made me chuckle and gave me the feeling that while not entirely original, efforts were made to put something different and engaging on screen and I appreciate the effort. The film has a slick clean look with some interesting use of lighting in certain scenes-the bowling alley is one that definitely stands out.
Not every action film can be as innovative or genre defining as The Matrix or Tenet but maybe they don’t all need to be? Sometimes we just want to turn off our brains and watch something decent and simple with kicks, punches, guns and bombs and Gunpowder Milkshake delivers. The action and choreography are solid, performances are decent and there are even a few comical moments thrown in for good measure.
Gunpowder Milkshake won’t provide you with restaurant quality dining but it’s a tasty takeaway treat you can just switch off and enjoy. Karen Gillian has just taken the top spot for me on the We Talk Film ‘New generation killers’ list and together with her girl gang of assassins, provide you with great action-packed fun for the weekend.
Gunpowder Milkshake, on Sky Cinema and streaming service NOW from 17 September. Our Sky trailer is HERE.