Well-choreographed stylish action films seem to be all the rage at the moment. The John Wick franchise appeared to start this off but other films such as Nobody, Atomic Blonde and Hardcore Henry have proven this to be the case. And Gunpowder Milkshake makes a very welcome addition to this sub-genre of uber-stylish and ultra-violent action films.
The film opens in a neon-lit diner with a milkshake where we meet 12-year-old Sam whose elite assassin mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) is running out on her after a job gone wrong. Flash forward fifteen years, we meet a now grown-up version of Sam, played by the MCU's Karen Gillan, a fierce hit-woman who's on the run herself after killing the son of ferocious mob boss Jim McAlister. Sam's now on the run not only from McAlister's criminal empire but also from the mysterious crime syndicate that she worked for known only as The Firm. To add to her difficulty, Sam's also looking after 8-year-old Emily (My Spy's Chloe Coleman) after killing her father, making it one difficult situation to get out of.
Gunpowder Milkshake is neon soaked, ultra-violent and just so fudging cool. From the neon lights to all the slo-mo and the epic action-movie score, the film is an absolute blast from start to finish. The action is expertly choreographed and well executed and it's wonderfully entertaining. Karen Gillan is the very definition of cool in this film.
It does bear many similarities to other stylish action films like the John Wick films. As well as the impressive action scenes, it's also got the mysterious criminal underworld organization that we don't know much about. The Firm feels rather reminiscent of The Continental from John Wick in that we don't know much about it, but they have a strong presence throughout the criminal underworld.
The thing that makes Gunpowder Milkshake stand out even further from these other stylish action films is the fact that it doesn't take itself quite as seriously. It knows that it's going so over the top with certain sequences but its borderline preposterousness just makes it even more fun. Some of the sequences are a bit too far-fetched and ridiculous but it all adds to the immense fun that you can't help yourself but have whilst watching it.
For instance, there's a scene where Sam's been injected with a serum that renders her arms useless and they have to escape so Emily is sat on Sam's lap in her car being fed instructions like “put it in drive!” and “hard left”. You can't help but roll your eyes just a little bit as an 8 year old drives a car in what would usually be a high-octane car chase in a film like this but nonetheless, Gunpowder Milkshake doesn't take itself too seriously. If you can suspend your disbelief just a little bit there's a ton of fun to be had.
The whole cast look like they're having a lot of fun as well. There's an exhilarating action-packed showdown that takes place in a library and the all-star cast including Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett get in on the action and it's clear that they're really enjoying their roles. But it is of course Karen Gillan that stands out as the ultra-badass and stylish Sam.
Even though it clocks in at six minutes shy of two hours, the film is a bit too long. There's a point where it feels like it's reached a natural conclusion and it's ready to end but it adds a small and unnecessary additional plot point to keep the film going for another 20 minutes when it doesn't really need to. And so when the end finally does come about, the film has outstayed its welcome.
Gunpowder Milkshake is a must-see for the action movie fan and it needs to be seen on the big screen. The set-pieces are so much more spectacular and electrifying on the big screen as you feel every single gunshot and every single punch that bit more. It's one of the most entertaining and one of the coolest films you'll see all year.
Gunpowder Milkshake will be released in cinemas and on Sky Cinema September 17th