This Netflix shoot-em-up, with its neon lights and female leads, tries far too hard to be cool. With the help of a steel chain, Michelle Yeoh kills an infamous Russian mobster in “Gunpowder Milkshake,” Navot Papushado’s slick, homage-heavy Netflix crime picture.
Because Yeoh is one of the greatest screen martial artists ever and is now 58 years old, he is rarely given the opportunity to pummel bad guys with gratuitous flair. This is important information to know. To Papushado’s credit, he allows the great Angela Bassett to wreak havoc alongside her, and for that, we can all be thankful.
In the role of the Librarians, assassins who run an underground hideout that doubles as a safe haven for their colleagues, I wish we had seen more of Yeoh and Bassett’s characters Yeoh and Bassett.
Sam (Karen Gillan) is the film’s protagonist, a young assassin who gets caught up in an elaborate kidnapping plot that involves a shadowy underground crime syndicate known as the Firm. The two characters are infinitely more interesting than Sam.
In comparison to the magnetic stars with whom she shares the screen, Gillan’s demure demeanor as she dispatches waves of anonymous henchmen is flat.
“Gunpowder Milkshake” is clearly the work of a movie fan, and Papushado, the co-director of the blackly comic thriller “Big Bad Wolves,” is clearly a cinephile.
Action sequences are based on Hong Kong shoot-’em-up films like John Woo’s “The Killer” and Johnnie To, particularly “Running Out of Time,” and the film’s neon-hued visual style is a nod to the work of Michael Mann and Nicolas Winding Refn.
Perhaps unavoidably, due to the film’s real-time plotting and complex underworld mythology, it resembles “John Wick”
Slow-motion dollies and split diopter shots, which can make action films like those of Brian De Palma dazzle, are frequently used in the filmmaking process.
The problem with Papushado’s flamboyance is that it comes across as cocky and indiscriminate. While this may ensure a long Twitter afterlife through GIFs and screenshots, it doesn’t make for a particularly intelligent or sophisticated cinematic.