Lots of films nowadays have been trying to ride off the success of John Wick. The Equalizer might’ve come a month before Wick but the latter’s massive reception overshadowed how well I think that film did and Nobody was a solid carbon copy that was able to back up its own stocks of ammunition to stand out on its own despite being unable to hide how much of a clone it was.
So our next constant to roll up to the plate: “Gunpowder Milkshake”.
Ok, imagine this: if you were to take the zany, over the top action of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie, add a little Charlie Angels cheesiness, mix in some Taken nods and Jackie Chan homages with the premise and presentation of John Wick or Kingsman, you’d get a movie that’d make me say, to take a bit from Pulp Fiction….“That’s a pretty good f—-ing milkshake. I don’t know if it’s worth five dollars, but it’s pretty f—-ing good.”
Just not this one, unfortunately.
Positives first: the aesthetic of this movie feels like a fever dream in the best of ways: With bright vivid colors and neon lighting glimmering amongst a neo-noir, glossy western reminiscent of the 1950’s and, to a lesser extent, Cyberpunk 2077, there’s enough consistency in the movies own gravitas and flair to accommodate its style. Actually, that ties in pretty nicely towards the atmosphere and the cinematography since both bleed into the Dick Tracy-like comic vibes.
Props, locale and wide compositions are made just as big of a focus in the production design as the set-pieces that followed and as odd as the music becomes, I won’t lie when I say it’s arguably the best part of the movie. Even when I’m not feeling the scene it’s accompanied alongside with, it’s fun to listen to on its own.
The rest of what I got was sad. I was actually looking forward to this.
Karen Gillian, Chloe Coleman, Lena Headey,
Paul Giamatti, freaking Angela Bassett, it’s not hard to see why the material attracted these people to the project. All of these first rate performers should’ve had a devil of a time with the material they were given and instead, they were all completely under-utilized which only makes it shameful that said dedication doesn’t make their characters calorie free of charge either.
This is only the third time Israeli director Navot Papushado has directed and written a feature film and I have to say it’s pretty standard stuff, right down to the bony little finger. With those familiar action tropes and cliches checking off that list, his direction becomes very stiff and the writing doesn’t pick up the slack; with what the script lacks in finesse and subtly, it makes up with indiscriminate flamboyance that doesn’t even have the charisma to back it up. I could very much label that in with the dialogue as well because a lot of the dialogues’ basic verbosity is either too much or leaves little to be desired. Sure, the actors are talented enough to take what they got and roll with it but with the lack of bite or taste around it, it feels ANYBODY could’ve written this.
Not to mention the hodgepodge story that comes from it also meant that the tone varied. Far too many scenes that would have been fine in an actual comedy, but then the movie would whiplash back to the borderline drama-action. One thing I praise the action sequences for, however, is how vibrant and exaggerated they are and not holding anything back from that fact. But that doesn’t exactly make them fun to watch: fight choreography was only marginally tolerable. Most of them are completely straightforward with little to no interesting mechanics or curveballs thrown in to tip the scale and the few times they do try to change it up just make said scenes look incredibly sloppy, forced or inconsequential.
For a comedy, I really wasn’t having it. I was expecting like Baby Driver or Shaun Of The Dead levels of needle-dropping given there’s plenty of cheese to go around here but the pacing does not do it’s supposed cheeky sense of humor any justice and this movie is 2 hours long. I just don’t get deadpan humor most of the time, I’m sorry.
No need to worry about brain freeze but I didn’t get a sugar rush from this either. This was a real ‘nothing’ sort of affair: it’s a treat that tries way too hard to be something that other movies were able to get right without even having to try and embarrasses itself when actually trying to do something new. It ain’t sweet enough to where I wouldn’t mind another round but if you want to see another movie where badass women take a stab at being John Wick, then I’d say you’ll be lukewarm with your order.