Only released on Netflix in many countries, reserved for a cinema release in United Kingdom: The action film GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE relies on a well-known cast and female power. We reveal how convincing it is in our review.
OT: Gunpowder Milkshake (FR/DE/USA 2021)
Although Sam (Karen Gillan) doesn’t exactly have the best opinion of her mother (Lena Headey), she has followed in her footsteps and has been working as a contract killer for an unscrupulous syndicate for years. However, her latest assignment forces Sam to go against her employers and protect the eight-year-old girl Emily (Chloe Coleman). While Sam’s mentor (Paul Giamatti) has her hunted, the resourceful fighter gets help from the tough weapons experts Madeleine (Carla Gugino), Florence (Michelle Yeoh) and Anna May (Angela Bassett) – as well as her mother…
2021 was many things, including the year of female-led action vehicles. “Casino Royale” director Martin Campbell brought us the direct-to-home premiere “The Protégé – Made for Revenge,” starring Maggie Q as the deadly protege of a hitman played by Samuel L. Jackson who sets his sights on Michael Keaton. In the Amazon premiere “Jolt,” Tanya Wexler portrays Kate Beckinsale as a live-in aggression therapy patient who wants to solve the disappearance of her date, played by Jai Courtney. And Cedric Nicolas-Troyan plays Mary Elizabeth Winstead in the Netflix film “Kate” as a killer trained by Woody Harrelson who is poisoned and wants to avenge her own death in her last hours of life. “Gunpowder Milkshake” also premiered in many countries in the summer – although it was mostly released internationally as a Netflix exclusive, it missed a theatrical release in United Kingdom due to the participation of Studio Babelsberg and StudioCanal. Since large parts of the film were shot in Berlin, “Gunpowder Milkshake” is sure to attract increased attention from some local media. But what else does the new film from “Big Bad Wolves” director Navot Papushado have to offer?
The relationship between mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) and her daughter (Karen Gillan) is tense…
First of all: Compared to the other two VOD action films mentioned above, this $30 million production has the most cinematic look. Papushado and his cameraman Michael Seresin do reach (“Planet of the Apes: Survival”) It’s nowhere near the level of the very pretty bowling alley action sequence, which shines in blue, pink and purple and was already thoroughly exploited in the marketing. Nevertheless, “Gunpowder Milkshake” repeatedly demonstrates an experienced eye and the ambition to enhance the material through unobtrusive but consistent stylization. In addition to the lighting and camera work, the production design also gives “Gunpowder Milkshake” a certain added value: Papushado and his team set the film in a somewhat exaggerated world – somewhere in a strange mishmash of “John Wick” and the first two “Kingsman” parts . Here the shadowy lit but colorful and contrasting underworld with its very own rules, there the “Kingsman” gimmick of a parallel world full of retro aesthetics – from 50’s diner to imaginatively decorated libraries. However, what holds “Gunpowder Milkshake” back on this level alone is the inconsistency of the design peculiarities. While the “John Wick” saga and the “Kingsman” films create their own compelling or crazy worlds that are coherent and fascinating, “Gunpowder Milkshake” moves from idea to idea – and occasionally falls flat and falls back to more generic approaches.
“Navot Papushado and his team set the film in a somewhat exaggerated world – somewhere in a strange mishmash of ‘John Wick’ and the first two ‘Kingsman’ parts.”
While the snappy fight choreography, including the targeted use of sporadically interspersed but always violent and hearty impressions of violence (the FSK rating from 18 is quite understandable, and not grossly exaggerated!) and more humorous action-slapstick moments, is more consistently convincing , the storytelling repeatedly pulls the handbrake: “Gunpowder Milkshake” screams out to be a crisp, stringent action pleasure with its style, its straightforward plot and the simple, easily sketched characters and the fast-paced, humorous fights, including more frivolous and crude outbursts. Worldbuilding of the “Kingsman” brand, self-confident excess like in the “John Wick” sequels or more profound character drawings are missing – which is why even the 114 minutes including the end credits seem overstretched. A quicker running time like the 92 minutes of the Bob Odenkirk vehicle “Nobody” would have benefited “Gunpowder Milkshake”.
Florence (Michelle Yeoh), Anna May (Angela Bassett), Madeleine (Carla Gugino) and Sam (Karen Gillan).
Instead, Papushado and Ehud Lavski’s script drags its way through all kinds of scenes with a lot of idleness and excessive explanations between the fights, plot turning points and snappy dialogues. The final touches are simply missing, which, however, determines whether the reduced characterizations and generic plot elements come across as more “fast and functional” or more “flattened and worn out”. Because, let’s be honest: “Nobody” isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with new ideas – but it knows how to use that as a strength. “Gunpowder Milkshake,” on the other hand, plods repeatedly, even though a sprint would be more appropriate. Regardless: The cast fills the film with charisma and verve. Karen Gillan is a convincing action frontwoman, the complicated emotions between Sam and her mother come across her and Lena Headey’s faces believably and Carla Gugino Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett play with an exaggeration, as if they were supporting characters in a “Kingsman” film.
“The final touches are simply missing, but this determines whether the reduced characterizations and generic plot elements come across as more “quick-functional” or more “flattened and exhausted.”
Conclusion: A little too long, but stylish and with good action: “Gunpowder Milkshake” is not a big hit, but it is an entertaining, well-presented action experience that could just be a little more crisp.
“Gunpowder Milkshake” can be seen in USA cinemas from December 2nd, 2021.