Better Than Black Widow

Gunpowder Milkshake

Starring Karen Gillan, Lena Headey and Chloe Coleman

Rated MA15+

Gunpowder Milkshake is a funny, grisly and incredibly stylish thriller about Sam (Karen Gillan), an elite assassin, who reunites with her long-lost mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) and a group of heavily-armed librarians to protect a little girl from the mob.

Gillan is a magnetic action lead, and it’s fun to watch Sam warm to and depend on Emily (Chloe Coleman), the girl she swore to protect. A dark secret looms between them, and the plot deftly balances power and confidence with an ever-worsening situation.

The cinematography and score are dripping with noir style, and this film’s world is reminiscent of John Wick, with dapper killers and ornate customs. The action is brutal, well-shot and frequently funny, with the highlight being a hilarious slapstick battle between a partially-paralysed Sam and a trio of thugs doped up on laughing gas. Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett and Carla Gugino all have moments to shine as the badass gun-toting librarians.

Gunpowder Milkshake muddies its driving conflict with two different antagonistic groups, which blur together somewhat, and Scarlet re-enters Sam’s life with bizarre abruptness. Even so, Sam and Scarlet have a deeply satisfying arc of growing close again under adversity.

It’s heartening to find a blood-soaked action movie that commits to themes of family, forgiveness and even mercy without being contradictory (and Gunpowder Milkshake surpasses similarly-themed Black Widow in many ways).

The better of July’s family-focused action movies, Gunpowder Milkshake is playing in most Victorian cinemas.

– Seth Lukas Hynes