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Review: Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)

This milkshake is nowhere near as appetizing or filling as it should have been. 

Have you ever seen a Wes Anderson movie? If you have, then you know that the acclaimed director is known for his eccentric writing, off-beat characters, and kooky tones that switch from high-energy to low-energy at the drop of a hat. Using this formula Anderson has made some amazing dramas and comedies. Now imagine if someone adopted that exact same formula and applied it to an action-thriller. Um, it doesn’t exactly translate, does it? Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) the newest action movie from Netflix, feels like if Wes Anderson was chosen to direct the next John Wick (2014 – present) movie. That’s right. It’s exactly as jarring and bizarre as you would expect. 

Credit: / Netflix / StudioCanal

Written and directed by Navot Papushado, Gunpowder Milkshake follows Sam, a professional assassin who must team up with her mother and her former associates in order to save a young girl from the wrath of a vengeful villain.

If I could sum up Gunpowder Milkshake in a single word it would be “disappointing.” I was initially low-key excited about this movie not only because the premise made it sound like it had the potential to be a thrilling adventure, but because the cast is utterly FABULOUS. Carla Gugino, Michelle Yeoh and Angela freaking Bassett playing amazingly badass assassins? Who work in a library in form-fitting suits that make them look like The Powerpuff Girls? Yes please to all of this! Throw in the reliably entertaining Karen Gillan and Lena Headey and there’s no way this movie couldn’t possibly fail, right? You would think and yet, Gunpowder Milkshake does the impossible and bungles this promising premise by turning what should have been a fun and exciting action movie into a dull and draining question mark of a movie. Serious missteps were taken with this movie, chief among them being that it doesn’t give the aforementioned trio nearly enough time to shine. Not only are they only in a handful of scenes, but they’re given the clunkiest dialogue in existence to stumble their way through. Come on, Netflix. You made Bassett star in Otherhood (2019). Haven’t you put her through enough? By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. Missteps were taken with Gunpowder Milkshake that while not completely sinking this movie, made it extremely difficult to keep paying attention. If I weren’t reviewing this movie I would have shut it off out of boredom halfway through.

Perhaps one of the most glaring missteps is that it isn’t until we’re 50 minutes into this nearly two hour movie that the main plot actually gets rolling. Gunpowder Milkshake moves at a glacial place and what’s worse is that it builds this bold and vibrant world but hardly takes anytime to fully explore or explain it. Seriously? You’re going to make me sit through scene after scene of deadpan delivery and not even give me a little taste of the history of this world or its characters? Papushado utilizes those bold and vibrant colours and such a stunningly unique production design that I wanted to know so much more about the world he was creating. The production design was hands down my favourite part of this movie. There were moments where Gunpowder Milkshake gave off vibes similar to a 1970s detective story, and it was at times like those when I would be somewhat interested in the movie. But as I’m sure you know, strong visuals are not enough to make a lacklustre movie worthwhile. There are some decent action scenes that may entertain some, but when a movie is as absent of substance as Gunpowder Milkshake, you can’t help but feel like something very important is missing. Gunpowder Milkshake is soulless. It kind of feels like a movie stringed together from the cut scenes of a video game. 

I can appreciate the quirky, fresh, eclectic tone that Papushado was going for, but his attempt at being original just comes off as a corny rip-off of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) or Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020). Or even as cheesy as Charlie’s Angels (2000) although not in a lovably endearing way. By the way, check out my reviews for those last two movies, here and here. I feel like the movie is practically screaming at me, “LOOK, LOOK! I’m different and unique in tone and style! Don’t you wan’t to be a fan of this movie?” It’s so aggressively overeager that I found myself scoffing at Gunpowder Milkshake more than being blown away by it. It doesn’t help that all of the actors, especially Gillan, deliver all their lines with such ridiculous seriousness that it undercuts the actual severity of the movie. That’s what makes it so corny. Maybe this is me being a little hyperbolic, but I truly found the dialogue to be a chore to endure. 

Credit: / Netflix / StudioCanal

I’m confident that Gunpowder Milkshake will find its own legion of fans who herald its brilliance, but personally, I couldn’t stomach this milkshake. And it’s not just because I’m lactose intolerant. I wanted so much to like this movie but I can’t even say that I mildly enjoyed it. Apparently a sequel is already in development (what is it with Netflix greenlighting sequels willy-nilly these days?) and I’m telling you now, I have no room for a second one of these milkshakes.

Have you seen Gunpowder Milkshake? What did you think?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!

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