I really don't have a problem with the all-female cast, but how do women not find this patronizing? About thirty minutes in I said to myself, "This feels like it was written by men." Then I looked up the writer and director, and sure enough, two dudes. The dialog and little female-literary-giant name-drops gave it away. It was the dialog that really ruined it for me, though. There's a point in the film where all the badass female assassins begin censoring themselves by saying things like, "Fudge that!" I don't know if the film was trying to be funny by pointing out the absurdity of them trying to shield a little girl from vulgar language while they're killing people in front of her, or if it was truly operating on a stereotype that all women are inherent nurturers and protectors that would naturally try to shield an impressionable child from naughty language. Then there's a terribly expositional moment where they're name-dropping all these female authors where a character actually blurts out, "Very progressive, a feminist." I guess they couldn't risk the audience not being familiar with the referenced author's works, but it was so clunky and unnatural that it made the actress saying it seem like this was her first role. The final coup de grace was the subtle-as-a-foghorn metaphor of the film's antagonists representing the patriarchy and its protagonists' triumph being some symbolic victory for all women. For people saying this was just supposed to be a popcorn flick, that was a really hamfisted attempt at social commentary.
But it doesn't even have much going for it as a popcorn flick either. First of all, the noir genre is liked by many, but it was hard not to laugh when they made Gillan's character look like a liveaction Carmen Sandiego, and I'm still not sure if it was supposed to be funny or not. Then there was the nebulous assassin's-society world-building a la John Wick. Which is one thing to do if you're going to do it well, but the whole thing felt like a vague afterthought in this movie. I'm still uncertain if they were trying to make a satirical parody of that type of idea or if it was just poorly executed, but I didn't like that aspect in John Wick either. Where John Wick made up for it was in superb choreography and fight scenes, that while not exactly realistic, were good enough to make you suspend disbelief and made you feel like there was some seriousness to it. Gunpowder Milkshake's fight scenes, while not lacking in creativity for sure, had all the believeablity and seriousness of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The one character with unquestionably badass fight scenes was Michelle Yeoh's, but unfortunately you only get to see her fight two different times.
If the action had been better, I think it might have distracted me from the clunky, expositional feminist-pandering by the two male writers. As it is, I had to force myself to finish the film, and did not feel rewarded for staying it through. Do yourself a favor and watch The Old Guard or Kill Bill if you want to watch decent action scripts with female leads. If you just want to watch a Wickian popcorn flick, go checkout Nobody, or maybe just watch John Wick again. As a fan of all those movies mentioned, this movie left a lot to be desired.
Two men try to write a female-empowerment popcorn flick