Netflix may have some great films like Marriage Story (2019) and Roma (2018) under their belt, but they have a knack for delivering some very forgettable action flicks. Some examples of these are Michael Bay’s 6 Underground (2019), Bright (2017), and most recently, Army of the Dead (2021). They might pull big streaming numbers, however, that does not mean they are good; they are completely lackluster. Now, Netflix brings us Gunpowder Milkshake, which is an amazing title. On paper, it looked like it would be a grand time due to it having a talented cast that is used to the genre, unfortunately, it fails to captivate and chooses style, neon to be exact, over substance.
Since she was abandoned by her elite assassin mother (Lena Headey) at the age of 12, Sam (Karen Gillan) has been raised by The Firm, a ruthless crime syndicate that her mother used to work for. 15 years later, following in her mother’s footsteps Sam has turned herself into a ferocious yet loyal hit-woman that helps The Firm clear some of its targets. When one of her jobs goes sideways and Sam chooses to protect an innocent 8-year-old, Emily (Chloe Colemaan), her only chance to survive is to reunite with her mother and her lethal comrades, The Librarians (Angela Bassett, Carla Gugino, and Michelle Yeoh).
The main problem is its horrible and sloppy script. From achingly cheesy lines to numbing character decisions, you are scratching your head at the writing decisions. You could argue that an action film does not need an extremely polished script to make itself work, however, it needs to have at least an engaging storyline and character that would interest the audience. For example, John Wick (2014), which I am not a huge fan of, mostly consists of people fighting, yet it takes 20-minutes or so to build its main character up. Most of the action set-pieces are well put together, some of which are clever.
It can be a shoot-out in a diner, driving a James Bond-esque bulletproof car, or fighting in a bowling alley; the combination of its production design, lighting, and stunt coordination help get the most of its sequences, to an extent of course. The stunt coordinator has a good eye regarding scenes like that, but Papushado then decides to add a lot of slow-motion into the mix and ruin the fun. Gunpowder Milkshake chooses style over substance to an ample degree. It has a nice concept going its way except it is not executed well. It does not have enough enthusiasm to steer clear or distract the viewer from the huge flaws of the film.
With an almost $30 million budget, one of the best titles in recent memory, and some of the most badass actresses working today, Gunpowder Milkshake still manages to feel like a waste of time. It’s a plain shoot-em-up flick with a dreadful script, uneven pacing, and does complete injustice to its skilled cast. There are small moments that might keep you entertained, mostly thanks to its neon flair, but it is only for a couple of seconds, not enough to enthrall. You could see this film working in the hands of someone else, unfortunately, we are stuck with yet another mediocre action film.
Gunpowder Milkshake is playing now on Netflix.