At one level in “Gunpowder Milkshake,” Navot Papushado’s slick, homage-heavy Netflix crime image, Michelle Yeoh has a raucous fist battle with a Russian mobster that culminates in her strangling him to demise with a size of metal chain. Now, that is necessary info, as a result of Yeoh is among the best display martial artists of all time and, now at 58, is never afforded alternatives to pummel unhealthy guys with gratuitous aptitude. Papushado lets her wreak carnage — alongside the nice Angela Bassett, who wields a pair of claw hammers — and for that we will be grateful.
I might have preferred to have seen a complete film about Yeoh and Bassett, who play the Librarians, assassins who function an area that serves as each a sanctuary and an armory for others within the career. The two are infinitely extra attention-grabbing than the precise hero of the movie, a younger murderer named Sam (Karen Gillan) who finds herself embroiled in an elaborate kidnapping plot that entails a shadowy underground crime syndicate referred to as the Firm. Gillan, blithely quipping as she dispatches waves of nameless henchmen, appears completely flat compared to the magnetic stars with whom she shares the display.
Papushado, who garnered acclaim as a co-director of the blackly comedian thriller “Big Bad Wolves,” is clearly a film buff, and “Gunpowder Milkshake” seems like a composite of cinephile-friendly references. The splashy, neon-hued aesthetic attracts from Michael Mann’s “Thief” and Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” whereas the sprawling, complexly choreographed motion sequences riff on the Hong Kong shoot-‘em-ups of the 1980s and ’90s, mainly John Woo’s “The Killer” and Johnnie To’s “Running Out of Time.” Perhaps unavoidably, due to its real-time plotting and sophisticated underworld mythology, it feels strikingly just like “John Wick.”
The filmmaking favors the sorts of showy stylistic thrives — sluggish movement dollies, break up diopter pictures — that, when used tastefully, could make motion dazzle, as within the movies of Brian De Palma. But Papushado’s flamboyance feels cocky and indiscriminate, as if he’s merely attempting actually exhausting to make each picture appear cool. While this will likely assure the film an extended Twitter afterlife by GIFs and screenshots, it doesn’t make for notably savvy or subtle cinema.
Rated R for graphic violence and a few inappropriate language. Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes. Watch on Netflix.