a Milkshake with Gunpowder (R16, 114mins) Navot Papushado (****1/2) directs.
At long last, Karen Gillan has landed the starring role befitting her undeniable abilities.
After getting her Hollywood start in the MCU and proving to be a great foil for Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Dwayne Johnson in the Jumanji films, the former Doctor Who co-star now gets the lead role in this imaginative, bravura, crowd-pleasing action-thriller.
‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ Review:
She portrays Sam, a janitor/contract killer for “The Firm.” Since Scarlet (Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey) left the role and her daughter’s life when she was a teenager, she has been doing the job.
But once a low-key gig turns into a brutal bloodbath because of “poor intel,” Sam may have to do like her mother did and disappear. Because during her first accidental escalation, she kills the son of a prominent and known-to-be-vengeful customer, Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson), and her “make-up job” of collecting money stolen from The Firm by one of its accountants goes equally pear-shaped.
Sam is forced to flee for her life and beg help from some of her mother’s best friends while also caring for Emily, the accountant’s daughter, who is eight years old (Chloe Coleman).
Gunpowder Milkshake tells its rather stale premise with a swagger that is quite hard to ignore, from its neon-infused opening titles to its late ’60s-influenced soundtrack and balletic moments of over-the-top violence.
It’s essentially a feminised take on a John Wick-esque world (The Firm is basically Wick’s High Table, The Continental here becomes The Library), mixed with Baby Driver-level dedication to car chases and use of music, and a dash of Guns Akimbo and Luc Besson’s The Professional. Director and co-writer Navot Papushado doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.
With Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti, Carla Gugino, and Angela Bassett doing her best Samuel L. Jackson impression, and with Gillan once again proving more than capable at action with a tinge of archness, the story becomes irrelevant to your overall enjoyment of the film.
The Smallest Things can Put the Biggest Smile on your Face.
Some of the highlights of the scene include Sam’s I Love Kittens bag, the library’s book-concealed armoury (“you’ll need a Jane Austen, a Charlotte Bronte, and a Virginia Woolf,” Sam is instructed), and Sam’s momentary paralysis of his upper limbs.
But the wider picture that the explosive Gunpowder symbolises is what should really make you smile. We’ve clearly come a long way from the days when action movies were solely testosterone-driven, when even a poorly planned and performed film like Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch was considered a success.
This milkshake, on the other hand, is a classic, but with a surprising amount of flavour.