Navot Papushado directs ‘Gunpowder Milkshake,’ a Netflix action-thriller from The Picture Company and distributed internationally by Studio Canal.
Sam (Karen Gillan) is a member of the Sisterhood of Assassins who works for The Firm. She is estranged from her mother and fellow assassin Scarlet (Lena Headey), who abandoned Sam when she was twelve. Sam is given an assignment by Firm exec Nathan (Paul Giamatti) to get back money that was stolen from them. She gets weaponry from the other sisters Anna May (Angela Bassett), Madeline (Carla Gugino), and Florence (Michelle Yeoh) by exchanging weapons from a hit where she killed the son of crimelord Jim McAlister (Ralph Ineson). She finds the man who stole the money, a guy named David (Samuel Anderson), who she shoots, but he reveals that he stole the money to pay the ransom for his kidnapped daughter Emily (Chloe Coleman). She tries to get him medical attention, but David passes away while Sam saves Emily and the money gets destroyed. Nathan informs her that now both the Firm and McAlister are after her, forcing Sam into the fight of her life.
I had high hopes for this movie. The trailer looked pretty cool and the cast has some fantastic names attached to it. Sure, the director might be kind of new and Netflix has a pension for “hit-and-miss” when it comes to action, but in this case, definitely a miss.
For one thing, it is a blatant ripoff of John Wick. They do not even try to hide it. The lighting, the elongated stylistic fight scenes, a mysterious assassin organization, a “neutral” location that is not so neutral, a protagonist with deep emotional issues that runs afoul of a crimelord, and so on. The similarities do not end there, but those are the highlights. It is a shame they did not capture the charisma or the compelling nature of the Wick Trilogy.
The plot is also incredibly wobbly. We just go from one bloody fight scene to another with no end scene. There is barely any depth and the small bits of it felt incredibly forced. Usually, it was to highlight the “bad men run the world, but the women have girl power.” The trope is getting old and Hollywood needs to find a new one or at least find a better way to tell the story, not just rely on the star power of cast members like Giamatti or Yeoh. This “in your face” faux-girl power only makes you cringe, not yell, “you go, girl!”
On the action, it is unimpressive. Again, it was clearly trying to imitate John Wick, but it was a poor imitation. There is also a terrible slow-motion fight scene toward the climax that was probably one of the worst I have seen in a long time. It was terribly choreographed and looked like something you would see in a parody, especially seeing the heroines take on thugs three times their size. I cannot even say the score and soundtrack were good. It was bizarre and annoying. At times, the music was so off, it made you wonder why this song or score was chosen instead of focusing on the movie.
Normally, films like this also have a saving grace in the acting, but again, not so. Giamatti was decent as was Gugino, but the rest of the cast was incredibly stiff. Gillian was a block of wood the whole time and offered no charisma. I have seen her do good acting, so this was disappointing. The rest of the cast was pretty much the same. There was not anything special or unique about the characters so you wonder why you should care about them.
Bottom line, Gunpowder Milkshake is a poor imitation of better action films. You might get some enjoyment by watching it ironically, but outside of that, I doubt anyone would like it.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong bloody violence, Strong Foul language,
FAVORITE QUOTE: We have to get out of here.
Check out the trailer below:
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