Director(s): Navot Papushado
Writer(s): Ehud Lavski, Navot Papushado
Cast: Karen Gillan, Lena Heady, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino
Synopsis: Three generations of women fight back against those who could take everything from them.
After the year of COVID-19, many people, including myself, were wondering what types of films we would get this year. Many major films from last year have been pushed into 2021, and something like Gunpowder Milkshake could have fallen under the rug for me and been a complete miss. I am so grateful to say that I didn’t miss this movie, and even happier to report that this film is an absolute blast.
This is an action film, but it isn’t like your usual action film. Director Navot Papushado finds a way to capture the fight scenes in this movie with such an engaging and wondering look to them. It’s not just that the fights that are intriguing, but the staging, the colors, THE MUSIC, even the objects used all culminate into these sweeping badass fights. Whether it is under the neon lights of a bowling alley, in a garage, or in a library, these fights are always captured in an exciting and new way. One that pulls the viewer in and forces them to engage with the scenes in more than just a viewing level. Papushado uses the camera the way it should be used in fight sequences, and displays and creates these scenes that let the viewer comprehend the action without feeling overwhelmed by it.
And while the direction is spectacular, what Papushado is capturing is even more brilliant. Karen Gillan has been a rising star over the past few years with franchises like Avengers and Jumanji, but here she is really given a chance to show just how special she can be as the main focus of a film, and let me just say I think Gillan is the action star of the future. She is meticulous and precise in her attacks, and her monotone and robotic delivery is honestly perfect. She fits the role so well, and pulls it off in such a way where I could not see anyone else do this as well as she did. You can see action stars like Keanu Reeves, Nicolas Cage, and Matt Damon all in the way she walks and talks.
Aside from Gillan, the supporting cast of Lena Heady, who plays her mom, and “The Librarians” (Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Carla Gugino) were all incredible. The final fight of the film is one of the best final fights of any action movie I have seen in a long time. Each weapon of choice was more insane than the last, and I was loving it. By this time I had fully dove into the spectacle and preposterous nature of the film. I hope Netflix makes more of these so we can fully dive into the stories of each of these women as well.
This movie does surprisingly so much with so little, and creates such an interesting and intricate world without really telling us much. There isn’t much exposition or meaningful dialogue, and in the best of ways, the story is told through the action we are given. This does create some absurdities within the story, but instead of trying to explain the absurd moments away, Gunpowder Milkshake leans heavily into them. Moments and situations happened in the strangest and most uncanny of ways. There was little plot, but the film isn’t made to be torn apart about the story. Yes, I found myself questioning some of the things happening on screen, but I never cared. I was along for the wild and crazy ride that we were given, and it ultimately culminated in some of the most fun I have had watching a movie all year.
Final: Gunpowder Milkshake is the action movie of the Summer, and Karen Gillan is the action star of the future. An absurdly fun and thrilling movie, and a massive win for Netflix.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.