What to Watch Verdict
An all-star cast gleefully shoots its way through a slightly overlong but otherwise delightful story.
📚 This. Cast.
📚 This. Cast. Murdering. People.
📚 Very pretty and highly stylized.
📚 Chloe Coleman has made it her mission to do an action movie with each of the Guardians of the Galaxy and I love that for her.
📚 Early exposition matters, but ultimately drags.
📚 Shorter than your usual Netflix fare, but the narrative could still be tightened up.
As reviews and word of mouth on Gunpowder Milkshake start to make the rounds, you'll hear it compared to John Wick quite a bit. While I suspect that comparison is more apt here than it was for Pig, don't think that Gunpowder Milkshake isn't made up of its own DNA. The similarities — ranging between The Diner vs. The Continental to the neon drenched cinematography — are many, but these ladies are on their own kind of mission and they're sick and tired of not calling their own shots.
Karen Gillan stars as Sam, the assassin that you very much don't want called on you. Her employers — The Firm — sent her on a job that ultimately resulted in the death of the son of a highly regarded crime lord, but that problem remains relatively nested for the majority of the first and second acts. Her most pressing issue is Emily (Chloe Coleman), the daughter of a man she shot on behest of The Firm after he stole a large sum of money to pay Emily's ransom. Sam can't leave her behind, but she also loses The Firm's cash while saving her.
The rest, as they say, is history. The assassin ultimately finds herself removed from The Firm, which excludes her from the protection she once had. To make matters worse, she'll have to fight her way through other contractors with The Firm, and things don't always go the way she plans.
There's a surprising amount of humor in Gunpowder Milkshake, whether it be the deadpan deliveries from Lena Headey and Gillan, or an entire fight scene done in slapstick thanks to exposure to an unexpected paralytic. Even better, this isn't the type of action joint that showed all of its cards in the trailer. While those snippets got us all appropriate hyped for an ensemble of this multitude, there is plenty more ass kicking to be had in the 110-minute runtime. Scenes at the dentist's office and the library are both big-ticket standouts, but after the first act you'll have an absolute buffet of kill scenes to choose from.
The cast — featuring the aforementioned as well as the likes of Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Paul Giamatti — is obviously to die for. Gugino, Bassett and Yeoh are a joy as the librarians, and it's clear they're having an absolute blast. Paul Giamatti is playing exactly who you expect him to, but hey! If it ain't broke. Mostly I just want to praise Chloe Coleman for collecting Guardians of the the Galaxy to do action films with (and for being great at what she does).
It sounds trite, but the neon-drenched extraness of Gunpowder Milkshake is either going to work for you or it isn't. I thought it looked stunning, but I can see how the in-your-face camera shots could be a turn-off for some. If you like highly stylized, bright, over-the-top filmmaking, you're going to love how this one's shot. Similarly, if you're into watching a group of legends get sick of being told what to do by multiple male-led organizations, 5 girls kicking the hell out of armies worth of dudes, and Karen Gillan kneecapping someone with a bowling ball, you're going to have a grand old time!
Amelia is an entertainment Streaming Editor at IGN, which means she spends a lot of time analyzing and editing stories on things like Loki, Peacemaker, and The Witcher. In addition to her features and editorial work, she’s also a member of both the Television Critics Association and Critics Choice. A deep love of film and television has kept her happily in the entertainment industry for 7 years.
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