Action movies aren’t exclusive to male actors, as Writer-Director Navot Papushado proves that women can kick ass, too, in the Netflix film, Gunpowder Milkshake!
Once an assassin (played by Lena Headey) pulls the trigger on the wrong target for a mysterious, all-male crime syndicate known as “The Firm,” she must cold-turkey bail on her family and friends in order to survive. Fifteen years later, Karen Gilliam’s Sam follows in her mother’s footsteps, doing the dirty work for those same shady characters. When Sam makes a similar mistake, their paths finally collide. Reunited, they seek to outsmart the numerous bounty hunters who hope to right their wrongs.
After watching this movie, I still don’t know the meaning of the title (which would be a glaring example of bad writing), but there were two major factors that really grabbed my attention: Its stylish aesthetics and the incredible actors who bring the storyline to life. The world of Gunpowder Milkshake is gloriously shaded in neon, bringing a retro vibe to its sets, its cinematography and its stylized violence, almost looking like an early Quentin Tarantino flick (and that is high praise). Building upon that structure is what feels like a John Wick-type of mythology.
The Diner is considered neutral ground, where no weapons are allowed (much like Wick‘s vast hotel setting) and since assassins can’t openly purchase weapons of mass destruction or visit public hospitals whenever they need to get stitched up, discretion is advised in every step of their lives. I really liked this location as a plot device.
But the jewel of this film’s universe is the library that masquerades as the illegal weapons dealership, which is hidden in plain sight. Its setting looks immaculate and hearkens many long hours I spent studying as an upperclassman in college, but it’s the librarians who make the magic there. Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh and Angela Bassett have all the best one-liners and bring the most depth to their characters. While they’re purely supporting characters here, they absolutely steal every scene in which they appear.
I love this group of female “librarians” fronting as gun dealers. (In real life, I would visit Carla Gugino’s librarian seven days a week!) All three women are great actors and each one (along with Headey) raises the bar for everyone else involved with this production. So, what’s left to say about Karen Gilliam’s character? She’s powerful. She’s a mighty wind, much like her mother and a joy to watch on the small screen.
“A girl made the three of you look like you’re from The Walking Dead?
While I wasn’t exactly well-versed in Papushado’s past projects, his work on display here shows great promise for future big-screen outings. If he could just tighten up his writing a little bit, at some point he might be able to out-Tarantino the filmmaker himself!
As the film ends, it feels like a franchise is born. While a sequel isn’t necessarily a longshot (rumors state one has already received the green light), I would absolutely love to see a spin-off series of movies detailing the librarians’ origins. Those characters shine the brightest here, and I can’t wait to see them appear in future adventures!