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Gunpowder Milkshake review: A creamy blend of John Wick, Kill Bill, and Jackie Chan

Lena Headey and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake.
Lena Headey and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake. Pic credit: Reiner Bajo/Studio Canal

Guns, razors, knives, and milkshakes? What more can anyone want from a movie? The new Netflix film Gunpowder Milkshake has all of them and promises a unique bloody affair for streamers.

The film contains a female empowered cast with many recognizable faces such as Karen Gillan, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and the always fantastic Carla Gugino.

But an exceptional cast aside, the hitman (hitwoman) trope is a tad oversaturated in the movie industry.

Does Gunpowder Milkshake find a voice within the growing list of contract killer flicks? Here is our Gunpowder Milkshake review and whether it’s worth streaming on Netflix.

Gunpowder Milkshake review

The film centers on Sam (Gillan), a hitwoman whose mother has been missing 15 years. Both Sam and her mother, Scarlet (Lena Headey), are contract killers for an organization called The Firm, and since Sam lost her mother, an associate of The Firm named Nathan (Paul Giamatti) is made her guardian.

Years later, Sam is a ruthless weapon for The Firm and is the company’s go-to killer. That is until a job goes haywire and she involves herself in the protection of a little girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman).

This instigates an unexpected turn for Sam, and she finds herself fighting against outside forces as well as those she works for.

And yes, sometimes she drinks a milkshake.

The film will draw a lot of comparisons to John Wick with its hitman underground world-building. With John Wick, killers had a safe haven in a hotel. With Gunpowder Milkshake, there are diners and libraries. John Wick had Lance Reddick as the memorable Hotel Manager, here we have Yeoh, Gugino, and Bassett as librarians that run an armory.

Even some of the plot steers close to the John Wick sequels as a contract killer finds his/her self at odds with everyone they work for.

Chloe Coleman as Emily from Gunpowder Milkshake.
Chloe Coleman as Emily from Gunpowder Milkshake. Pic credit: Reiner Bajo/Studio Canal

Where Gunpowder Milkshake differs is in its approach to action. The film is riddled with sequences that are creative, inventive, and are sometimes comedic. There are at least three sequences that invoke the spirit of Jackie Chan (in incredibly gory fashion) when they give the protagonist a humorous setback, and the character has to improvise their fighting method while having that setback.

The film also differentiates itself from John Wick with having a lot of Tarantino-esque qualities. A few of the fights have whistling tunes that will give viewers callbacks to Kill Bill sequences. The violence follows very closely to a Tarantino film as well. It’s not extremely over-the-top, but it flirts with it at various moments.

That said, even though it pulls from different influences, it never feels like it’s doing so to a fault. The combination of having a female John Wick, Tarantino-ish tone, with some Jackie Chan influence makes for a creamy blend of an action movie. Needless to say, the film eventually becomes its own thing.

The one talent that needs to be praised more than anyone is Karen Gillan. For an action movie, she is doing so much here emotionally as well as physically. The entire film, she has that quiet killer persona down. It’s akin to the quiet rage that Ryan Gosling postured in Drive – only she speaks way more in this movie. Viewers might even notice that the jackets they wear in both films are quite similar.

Karen Gillan from Gunpowder Milkshake on left, Ryan Gosling from Drive on right.
Karen Gillan from Gunpowder Milkshake on left, Ryan Gosling from Drive on right. Pic credit: Reiner Bajo/Studio Canal/Film District

But more than anything, this is an action movie that men and women can enjoy. It’s not sexualizing the characters, it’s not making the women need a man to come save the day. All of the women in this film have agency, and well, they are absolute bad*sses.

On top of this, Gunpowder Milkshake has a rather endearing mother and daughter dynamic within its violent surface. Sam protects Emily because she felt abandoned, and Scarlet aims to make up for the time she missed with Sam by protecting them both.

Is it the best hitman/hitwoman film ever made? Absolutely not. There are far better films involving paid assassins within the genre. Other films may even stick the landing better than Gunpowder Milkshake when it comes to action.

That said, between the performers, the clever blending of styles, and the inventive fight sequences – Gunpowder Milkshake earns its place in the conversation of some of the best the genre has to offer. And at the very least should remind the cinema world that Karen Gillan needs to headline more films.

Should you stream Gunpowder Milkshake on Netflix?

Gunpowder Milkshake is a blended milkshake of John Wick and Kill Bill with Jackie Chan sprinkles. Between the exceptional female-led cast, the inventive action, and the mother-daughter backdrop, this is not the typical assassin movie.

The movie is a showcase of what Karen Gillan is capable of as an actress. She was always incredible as Nebula from Guardians of the Galaxy, but Gunpowder Milkshake should rightfully make her a leading star.

For more Netflix reviews, check out our coverage of Fear Street Part 1 and Part 2 right now.

Gunpowder Milkshake is now streaming on Netflix.

John Dotson is a film and television reviewer and commentator from Texas. His favorite part of what he does is getting to discuss film and television with other people who love it as much as he does....read more

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