Whenever my broadcast partner for Down and Out Reviews, the podcast I do with Isaac (please also check out our YouTube channel Oh Man Disney), says he is going to watch a movie on Netflix, that means it is going to be our next topic of conversation. Luckily, as he was stumbling over the title about which he was thinking (which turns out to be The Bubble, so stay tuned), I was able to slip in Gunpowder Milkshake (2021). I had watched it over the weekend, and had been planning to write about it. Usually, Isaac likes to give me movies he thinks will torture me, which is why I looked upon getting my suggestion in as a small victory.
A little girl sits in a diner, but the sugary drink in front Sam (Freya Allan) is not a Gunpowder Milkshake. Rather, it seems to be of the regular variety, and one she intends to share with her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), who is late for their rendezvous. When she arrives, we learn that she is an assassin, and she is coming back from a job that has gone wrong, and she must now flee before interested parties catch up with her. They do, and she is forced to kill them all, slipping out before the smoke clears. Sam is then taken in by Nathan (Paul Giamatti), who is a high-ranking member of a criminal organization known as The Firm. Sam, now grown up (Karen Gillan), is following in her mother’s footsteps, killing people for The Firm. She is sent to do a job, murdering the son of a rival criminal organization. It turns out to be a bloodbath when a number of other goons show up, and Sam dispatches them all. She then takes her weapons to a place that looks like a library, but is actually the headquarters for a group of female mercenaries of which her mother used to be a part. While a tense exchange goes on between them, the head of the other gang and father of the deceased, Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson), is not pleased, to say the least. Nathan sends Sam out on another assignment, this time to collect money from a man (Samuel Anderson) who had stolen it from The Firm. While she confronts him in his hotel room, his phone rings. When he reaches for it, he also goes for Sam’s gun, resulting in the gun being triggered and a bullet ending up in his abdomen. It had also been revealed that he had done this to save his kidnapped daughter, Emily (Chloe Coleman), from yet another group of bad guys. Since she had been abandoned by her own mother, Emily’s plight tugs at Sam’s heart strings. Hence, Sam takes the money, drops dad at a hospital run by The Firm, and goes to the exchange in his place, all the while Nathan is telling her to forget the little girl and simply bring back the money. This prompts a meeting of the principal leaders behind The Firm, and they decide to give up Sam to McAlester. The situation is made even worse when the suitcase with the money is blown up by the criminals she was supposed to do business with, which ended in their deaths, but at least she is able to rescue Emily. They then return to the hospital to find dad has passed away, and that The Firm has turned against her. She is given an added challenge in fighting her way out when Dr. Ricky (Michael Smiley), the person in charge of this faux clinic, gives her an injection rendering her arms useless. It does not stop her from killing The Firm’s thugs, but it means that Emily must sit on her lap and drive them out of danger. Sam initially tries to make her way to a safe house, only to find tit surrounded by McAlester’s gunmen, forcing Sam to again fight. This time, she receives some timely assistance from Scarlet, who appears after fifteen years of watching from afar. Once they are out of immediate danger, they head to the library. The ladies there are not thrilled by Scarlet’s return, but eventually they agree to help. They do so just as an army of McAlester’s men descend on the place. Emily is taken to the basement, while a few of the others thin the herd at the entrance. Unfortunately, Madeleine (Carla Gugino), the one guarding Emily, dies protecting the little girl, who is taken. Sam is then given the option to exchange herself for Emily. The agreed upon meeting place for the propsed body trade is the same diner from the beginning of the film. Entering an establishment crowded with McAlester’s hired guns, Sam sits across from him. What McAlester has yet to realize is that Scarlet, along with Anna May (Angela Bassett) and Florence (Michelle Yeoh), the two remaining librarians, have disguised themselves as waitresses and turn the tables on McAlester. The only remaining task is to get Nathan off their backs, which they do by having Emily dress as a girl scout ringing his doorbell and selling cookies. When he answers, he soon notices the laser beam attached to the rifle pointed at his chest and aimed by Sam. So that he is not murdered, he agrees to leave them alone, and all are women ride off into the sunset.
While reading the synopsis of Gunpowder Milkshake, you might be wondering why Emily would trust the person who killed her father. Indeed, this is something that the audience feels, and Sam worries about, all the way up until the point when she finally admits to the little girl what happened. This Catholic reviewer commends Sam for the guts to say what she did. It is tantamount to a confession, though clearly not intended in the Sacramental sense. Nonetheless, looking at this act in this manner is illustrative of the benefits of admitting wrong doing, whether or not it is before God. Sin is like a weight, and saying it out loud shifts it, lightening the load. This works in a deeper metaphorical way, too, if you think about it in terms of getting to Heaven. If Heaven is above us, one cannot rise while burdened by sin. In this scenario, we can look at the life our heroes seem to be headed into at the end as a kind of heaven, made possible by the honesty between Emily and Sam. Additionally, Emily deserves a lot of credit from a Catholic point of view. The film explains that while there were some problems between Emily and her dad, she loved him all the same. That is the first testament to her character. The second, and biggest, is the fact that she is able to forgive Sam. Emily understands that her father was up to no good, and that while Sam pulled the trigger by accident, it was his decisions that put him in this predicament. Kudos for the level-headed thinking, but even more so for the ability to forgive. There is a reason why forgiveness is equated with divinity.
The subplot of the relationship between Emily and Sam makes Gunpowder Milkshake watchable. Otherwise, it is a bloody, run-of-the-mill action flick. There is swearing and gore, and about at the levels you would expect from such a film. All the same, I did enjoy it at times, and I was gratified by the ending. It is perfectly fine to watch after the kids go to bed, and forget within hours of seeing it.