Starring: Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino
Director: Navot Papushado
Running Time: 114 mins
Gunpowder Milkshake is an American film about a woman who, years after being abandoned by her assassin mother as a child, takes up the same profession, and finds herself doing battle alongside women of all different generations against a powerful and brutal firm of hitmen.
I really wanted to love Gunpowder Milkshake. With a kick-ass group of actors going all out in a John Wick-style pulp action movie, this is a film with so much potential to be a fun, thrilling and endlessly action-packed extravaganza. And the fact that it’s not is such a disappointment.
There’s so much about Gunpowder Milkshake that falls short of the mark, but its biggest crime is turning a story with the potential for deliriously, giddily ridiculous action into such a low-energy, low-stakes affair. Despite the parallels in visual and narrative style, this is about as far away from John Wick as can be.
Before we get into why this film doesn’t work, however, let’s look at its few positives, namely the performances. While none of the lead actresses quite has the mesmerising energy of Keanu Reeves in the John Wick movies, they do at least give their all in the action sequences here, with the film’s closing number featuring a brilliantly entertaining tag-team of leading ladies doing battle with a brutal group of mercenaries.
Karen Gillan is perfectly likable in the lead role, though she’s never the intimidating hitwoman that the film seems to present her as, and the reticent dialogue she’s given in the screenplay often comes off as shyness more than being disturbingly sparing with her words.
As a result, this movie doesn’t have an anchor for you to piggyback on as we follow Gillan on a journey of killing bad guys, and reuniting with her past, no matter how agonising it may be in the modern day. It’s a story that has the potential to blend exhilarating action with gripping personal emotion, but Gunpowder Milkshake never manages to deliver on either front, ultimately proving more of a boring watch than anything.
Ultimately, the film is perfectly harmless, but it’s never the great feminist pulp action thriller it promises to be. With all the John Wick comparisons I’ve made, the film that you really want to see for a brilliant female-led action thriller is the Vietnamese Furie, which has all the dramatic depth and kick-ass thrills that Gunpowder Milkshake doesn’t. And so, that’s why I’m giving Gunpowder Milkshake a 6.3 overall.