Netflix's "Gunpowder Milkshake" is another dumb fun lark about women who kill

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Salon 14 July, 2021 - 05:43pm 10 views

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Gunpowder Milkshake was digitally released on Netflix in the United States on July 14, 2021, and theatrically in other territories by STXfilms and StudioCanal, beginning on July 15, 2021. wikipedia.orgGunpowder Milkshake

Gunpowder Milkshake (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.):Gunpowder Milkshake comes alive in its darkly comic action sequences, which prioritize creativity as much as brutality, with an uncommon focus on props, locations, and wide compositions. It’s a shame, then, that director/co-writer Navot Papushado (Big Bad Wolves) struggles to find that same tonal confidence elsewhere. Gunpowder Milkshake is about half as funny and clever as it should be, weighing down its cheeky sense of humor with attempts at genuine pathos that fall flat.” Read Caroline Siede’s entire review of this action drama starring Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh.

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Heist (Netflix, 3:01 a.m.): This docuseries chronicles some of America’s most notorious heists, from the robbery of a Las Vegas casino to one at a Miami airport. It hails from Dirty Robber, the producers behind the Oscar-winning Two Distant Strangers, and will also very likely make you want to rewatch the Ocean’s Eleven franchise.

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Gunpowder Milkshake Review

IGN 14 July, 2021 - 09:46pm

With an abundance of style and a deficit of substance, Gunpowder Milkshake features an impressive lineup of stars -- ones who you really want to watch kick a ton of ass -- but wastes them with a regrettably empty project that lands with a muddled thud.

A "comic book movie" that's not based on a comic book, Gunpowder Milkshake presents us with a hyper-stylized bubble world of shadowy money men, female assassins, an endless supply of disposable thugs, and a lone library that's meant to supply and train members of the "Sisterhood." Greats Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino play the stewards of the library while the MCU's Karen Gillan plays a lone killer being targeted by - yup - the very organization she works for. Gillan's Sam is the daughter of Lena Headey's Scarlet, a hitwoman who was forced to run out on her little girl 15 years earlier. Now Sam must reunite with Scarlet, and join forces with the Sisterhood, in order to take down The Firm. It sounds more fun than it is.

Despite the neon colored-sets and an attempt at a noir-ish, pulpy production design, Gunpowder Milkshake is dragged down by D.O.A. dialogue, rote action sequences, and just an overall lifelessness. As mentioned, it's assembled an awesome-on-paper, award-winning cast, including Paul Giamatti, and then gives them clinically dry lines to say and tedious roles to portray, as if their mere presence was supposed to be good enough. And, sure, the "hitman running from their own boss" story isn't new, but that doesn't mean it can't be done in a fun or fresh way. Gunpowder Milkshake dresses up this time-honored tale with hot pinks and retro diners and a cutesy malt shop aesthetic but that's all it is: a sugar-coated sheen. The rest is a tonal mess that at its best is quirky "cool" and at its worst is bland and boring.

To give the story a touch of heart, Chloe Coleman enters as Emily, a young girl who Sam must protect while also fending off her own company's crazed, screaming goons. Gillan's Sam is an effectively hard nut to crack so it makes sense that she be given a young ward. But then everyone else in the story is also a gruff, steely badass so it makes Sam feel less special by comparison. Only Carla Gugino's Mathilde gets to sneak in some personality, embodying the polite and kind front-facing bespectacled librarian of the Sisterhood. While everyone else is just being tough, she's allowed to present a small amount of warmth and, in a way, humor.

Another failing element here is the fact that Sam is being marked for death because she killed the wrong person on a mission given to her by her bosses. No, not an innocent bystander or some type of collateral damage, Sam's target was the son of a mob boss and her employers simply made a mistake. It's even repeated over and over that she was just doing her job like normal, but leaning into this strange plot marker doesn't help it make sense. Sam being betrayed like this undercuts just about everything. It makes it seem very matter of fact as if she could have just been dumped by The Firm at any point over the past 15 years for absolutely no reason. In turn, all the action that follows resonates as hollow because it feels like the movie barely searched for a reason for mass bloodshed and Gun Fu theatrics.

Gunpowder Milkshake finds a window of life in the middle, during a hospital fight between Sam and three thugs (dubbed the "Boneheads"), where her arms are rendered useless and she has to tape a gun to one hand and a scalpel to the other, and use young Emily as an assist. It's a touch overly choreographed but it's also the closest the film gets to feeling eccentric on its own terms. Most of the movie's big action is saved for the end when all the women can join together, but this bit of lunacy was the better showing. This second act run with Emily also made it seem like there was a different style of story forming. Sadly, there wasn't and Emily is quietly shuffled back into the deck for the third act.

‘Gunpowder Milkshake’ Review: Stylish Mayhem

The Wall Street Journal 14 July, 2021 - 09:46pm

“Gunpowder Milkshake”—such a great title—finds Mr. Papushado directing on his own this time (from a screenplay by himself and Ehud Lavski) and operating in the world of unstoppable contract killers, female division. But he continues to push boundaries, propelling the increasingly moribund crime film into a pastel-hued world of eye-popping artifice and hyperviolence. The effect, at times, is abstract expressionist, the choreography and camera moves creating their own context—one that takes flight from the narrative and occupies a universe of color and movement that transcends the copious bloodshed being served up, hot and cold.

Not everyone’s cup of mayhem, assuredly. As compensation for the busy visuals, the storyline will be a comfortable one, especially to fans of “La Femme Nikita,” “Léon: The Professional,” “Gloria” and any number of large-caliber ancestors. The attitude is decidedly tongue-in-cheek. The tone of the acting is so heightened it’s a shock no one gets a nosebleed.

Sam (Karen Gillan), a seemingly invincible hitwoman working for an outfit called The Firm, hasn’t seen her mother, Scarlet (Lena Headey), in 15 years: Scarlet pulled the trigger on the wrong person, it seems, and had to skedaddle, but not before helping train Sam in the martial, ballistic and paramilitary arts. Sam, understandably, has issues of the maternal variety: When she’s dispatched by her handler, Nathan (Paul Giamatti), to settle accounts with The Firm’s accountant—he has absconded with a considerable sack of cash and securities—she finds that the alleged embezzler was only trying to ransom back his daughter, who’d been kidnapped by a gang in horror-movie masks. Defying orders, Sam insists on not just getting the money back but rescuing the imperiled young Emily (Chloe Coleman)—and she doesn’t even have to kill the kidnappers: They’re so eager to betray each other they all wind up dead. But they also blow up the money. Which prompts The Firm to withdraw its protection of Sam, leaving her the target of all kinds of people with all kinds of vendettas.

“Gunpowder Milkshake” would be a pretty obvious feminist parable even without the trio of “librarians” who comfort Sam with advice and artillery. Carla Gugino is the dainty but lethal Madeleine; Michelle Yeoh is the quietly deadly Florence; Angela Bassett is the snarling Anna May, who is angry with Sam for never stopping by their bookish armory, where the volumes contain handguns of various sizes and the larger-caliber weapons have monikers like “Jane Austen,” “Virginia Woolf” and “Charlotte Bronte.” All three actresses have impressive action-movie credentials (Ms. Gugino in the “Spy Kids” films, Ms. Yeoh in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Ms. Bassett in “Black Panther,” to cite just a few examples) but they have seldom left behind quite this number of casualties. Mr. Papushado requires them to thump a virtual army of male perpetrators, something they do with considerable style.

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Gunpowder Milkshake: Netflix’s action-thriller is an open, awkward copycat

Polygon 14 July, 2021 - 09:46pm

The incredible cast — Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh — is serving up thin copycat gruel

A seemingly lab-grown, algorithm-assembled array of elements meant to please everyone, Gunpowder Milkshake boasts a solid supporting cast. (Particularly Game of Thrones’ Lena Headey, who outshines star Karen Gillan, aka Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nebula.) There are a couple of thrilling action sequences, and the production design flickers between emulating Nicolas Winding Refn’s neon-soaked indulgence and Michael Mann’s sparsely cool neo-noirs. But it’s difficult to tell what Navot Papushado’s own directorial style might be like when Gunpowder Milkshake feels like a grab bag of other filmmakers’ quirks, from Zack Snyder’s slow-motion tableau pans to J.J. Abrams’ snap-zooms. Like so many recent action movies, Gunpowder Milkshake is hampered by an overzealous editing style that denies viewers the satisfaction of bodies in motion. And like so many recent movies aimed at a female audience, it’s full of feminist promises that wind up feeling thin.

Gunpowder Milkshake doesn’t entirely ignore the women-supporting-women cause. A mother protects her daughter, a twentysomething woman befriends and mentors a young girl, and three women gladly welcome back family members who left years before. But there’s no depth, and the a script never digs into anything these characters have in common past their gender. Gunpowder Milkshake does the bare minimum, and although it makes some smart aesthetic choices, they don’t add up to the singularity a familiar film like this requires.

Gunpowder Milkshake uses voiceover narration to introduce Sam (Gillan), an assassin who works for the nebulously powerful, all-male organization the Firm. “They’ve been running things for a long, long time,” Sam says, and she and her handler Nathan (Paul Giamatti) have been killing people for them for 15 years, since her mother Scarlet (Headey), also an assassin for the Firm, left her behind. Their rain-soaked, purple-lit parting took place at a diner Sam still frequents for its milkshakes after she murders her latest target, sews up her injuries, and further cultivates her terrifying reputation. But after a job goes wrong one night and she kills someone unexpected, her life begins to unravel.

Nathan tells her things can be set right if she tracks down a person who stole from the Firm, kills them, and gets the group’s money back. Over the course of — maybe one night, maybe a couple of days, the film is unclear on this — Sam gets to it, but nothing is as simple as it seems. When she reconnects with “librarians” (and weaponeers and armorers) Madeleine (Carla Gugino), Anna May (Angela Bassett), and Florence (Michelle Yeoh), they remind her of her childhood and her mother. So does Emily (Chloe Coleman), the daughter of one of Sam’s victims, who fills her with a sense of personal responsibility. With a target on her back, Sam needs to use all her shooting, slashing, stabbing, punching, kicking, and mixed-martial-arts skills to fight back against foes Jim (Ralph Ineson) and Virgil (Adam Nagaitis). “Just another day at the office,” she deadpans, but that isn’t quite true — especially not when her long-lost mother returns.

Between the Guardians of the Galaxy and Jumanji franchises, Gillan is now an action star. So why does she spend Gunpowder Milkshake doing an ineffective Uma Thurman impression instead of cultivating her own take on Sam? The film opens with a beautiful shot of a slash of red light illuminating only Sam’s eyes in a dark, blood-spattered apartment, but then its first hour drags because of the way Gillan mistakes stiffness for seriousness.

It doesn’t help that the tone of the script, co-written by director Papushado and Ehud Lavski, is all of over the place, demanding that goofy lines (“You haven’t touched your milkshake”) and phrases (guns referred to as “clean broomsticks”) be uttered with complete candor. And the urgency with which Gunpowder Milkshake wants to prove its feminist bona fides (Sam clarifying that she has no problems killing women, although the film never actually asks her to; the librarians loading her up with weapons hidden in books by Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, and Virginia Woolf; a villain complaining about his daughters) feels insincere, given that most of the film’s top-line crew are men.

Do they redeem a bizarre ending that unnecessarily absolves Sam of any wrongdoing, but of course leaves open room for a sequel? They do not. But when Gunpowder Milkshake has so few successes, Headey’s half-smirk, Bassett’s exasperated line deliveries, Gugino’s set jaw as she steps behind a mounted machine gun, and Yeoh’s effortlessly cool eyepatch-wearing will have to do.

Gunpowder Milkshake

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