“An inferno of world and cast dulled”: A Review of Gunpowder Milkshake

WARNING: Spoilers hiding in this journey through neon glare and potent MOMMY issues.  

In the throes of “post”-COVID-2021, Gunpowder Milkshake was released. The trailer was grabbing – promising a stellar cast and dynamic neons.  

Fronting the cast is Karen Gillan who is joined by Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett and Michelle Yeoh…. AND The Witcher’s Freya Allan. The action-thriller is directed by Navot Papushado who has a few credits to his name but is still relatively fresh on the scene.  

Whilst the film had a strong presence and was an enjoyable spectacle, some elements were missing that could have taken the film to cult status.  

Here is the film blurb for ya:

In her turbulent life as a professional assassin, Scarlet was cruelly forced to abandon her daughter Sam and go on the run. Years later, despite the estrangement, Sam has also grown up into a cold blooded hitwoman. After a high-stake mission spins out of control, putting an innocent 8-year-old girl in the middle of the gang war she has unleashed, Sam has no choice but to go rogue. This ultimately leads her back to her mother and her former hitwomen sidekicks, who all join forces in an avenging war against those who took everything from them. 

The film started with promise – strong visuals and themes and then sort of lost it as the film went on. Which was the way with a lot of the film.  

The start of the film brought hitwoman Wes-Anderson-esque visuals paired with a jaunty musical theme. It seemed the musical theme would be returning throughout, which had the potential to make the film into something of a hypnotic experience.  

***I was DEVASTATED to see the tune disappear because it reminded me of the Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated theme music which was a personal love of mine.  

The film had hyper-stylized scenes, with intense lighting and killer visuals through the environment and sets, to begin, and it was disappointing to see this bleed away as the film went on. Ultimately, I think what contributed to this was daybreak, I think the film could have benefitted from being an adventure completed in one night rather than over multiple days.  

The action sequences started clumsy but did feel better placed when comedy was involved. Otherwise, the hand-to-hand combat scenes felt static and abrupt. Paired with the inconsistent gore techniques, the action jumped around and didn’t flow in the way we have seen in other recent films.  I feel like action inspired by Kingsman: The Golden Circle would suit the vibe of Gunpowder Milkshake. The final fight did come as a saving grace with more displayed of the ever-alluring Library.  

To call you back to the start, this film contains POTENT mommy issues. I felt that the exploration of motherhood was a strong point to the film – from abandonment of a mother to falling into being a mother figure. Sam’s reluctant-but-inevitable following into her mother’s profession brought me a fresh take on the origin story of becoming an assassin that I have been looking for lately. Gunpowder Milkshake has been criticised for being a “John Wick but with chicks” (which is a fair argument) but I feel that the thematic exploration of how the idea of mothers and motherhood affects Sam piqued my interest and took the film a step above mass murder to avenge a dog.  

The film had such an elaborate world that I felt placeless in because the world was left almost entirely unexplored. You have a world-altering shadow organisation, The Firm. You have a retro-rich safe haven in which enemy assassins meet, The Diner. And, you have an armoury providing deadly weapons and intel to even deadlier women, The Library. These institutions are introduced in the film with such intrigue, and I understand leaving room for mystique, but the relationship between the three is never laid bare. The dynamics could have offered expansions into each of the characters, particularly the fairy godmother-esque Librarians.

You have Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett AAAND Carla Gugino and you’re telling me you aren’t going to give their characters the space they need to enthral the audience? Truly, the Librarians were such a standout with their lore and Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather look. I was so drawn to them and felt robbed when they weren’t given as much screen time as I was anticipating.


Overall, Gunpowder Milkshake was an inferno of world and cast dulled. The screen time robbed from exposition and key characters left for an almost lurching watch.

The film was great and I do believe it is a worthwhile watch, but I want it to achieve much, much more when it is inevitably remade.* 

*Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…. I am manifesting. 

Ben Steele
Ben Steele
Articles: 31

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