Throughout the '70s, '80s, and '90s, action films often attempted to deliver audiences the biggest and most spectacular practical effects they could conjure, typically embracing the notion that "bigger is better," sometimes resulting in storylines taking a backseat to the stunts that could be pulled off. However, with visual effects techniques advancing over the years, almost any imaginable sequence could be brought to life, with the past decade seeing an emphasis on injecting as much style and complex mythology into such adventures as possible. This is surely the case with filmmaker Navot Papushado's new film Gunpowder Milkshake, which delivers a compelling experience that is visually lush while also hinting at a much larger story unfolding. Gunpowder Milkshake hits Netflix on July 14th.
"The inspiration starts, for me, almost always with these three legendary filmmakers and their filmography, which is Alfred Hitchcock and his film noirs and Akira Kurosawa's samurai, running movies. And Sergio Leone," Papushado shared with ComicBook.com about developing the film, which he co-wrote with Ehud Lavski. "I find I always go back to those three iconic masters and the same happened here. It's the assassin genre. It's about an assassin on the job and she stumbles upon a kidnapped girl there. It's these two worlds now colliding. Now she has a dilemma. Either she's going to do a job, bring back the money, but then she's risking this little girl's life or she's risking the girl's life, she's betraying the code, the rules of the world she's coming from. And once we had that, it's like, right there, everything fell into place afterwards. Like, 'Oh yeah, we'll do this. And now she has a mother-daughter story and the whole crew and why settle with one villain? Let's have The Firm, the monsters, kidnappers.' So we just became more layered, but in many ways also very simple and linear."
In the film, Sam (Karen Gillan) was only 12 years old when her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey), an elite assassin, was forced to abandon her. Sam was raised by The Firm, the ruthless crime syndicate her mother worked for. Now, 15 years later, Sam has followed in her mother's footsteps and grown into a fierce hit-woman. She uses her "talents" to clean up The Firm's most dangerous messes. She's as efficient as she is loyal. But when a high-risk job goes wrong, Sam must choose between serving The Firm and protecting the life of an innocent 8-year-old girl -- Emily (Chloe Coleman). With a target on her back, Sam has only one chance to survive: Reunite with her mother and her lethal associates, The Librarians (Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino). These three generations of women must now learn to trust each other, stand up to The Firm and their army of henchmen, and raise hell against those who could take everything from them.
Just on paper, the cast assembled for the film excited audiences, with Papushado breaking down how all of the key pieces got involved in the experience.
"First of all, I'm sure that once we had a little bit of momentum, I think the first that came along were Karen and Lena, they were the first to join in," the filmmaker detailed. "Obviously, we needed to find a mother-daughter. So I was a fan of those two before I met them. But after I met them, I was like, 'Okay, they like the script, the vision,' but also we had such a great dialogue and they had such great inputs on the script. So they were the first two to come on board and then came Angela, Michelle, and Carla. I think they liked the script. I think they loved the idea of working with each other and they loved, I think, they really enjoyed the dialogue with me, but in the end, it's really hard to say. It's kind of a chicken and the egg [situation]. I think it was, at one point, it just felt that the chemistry from the cast is going off the set and then back into the set. So it just became, like, this group of women are just ... the chemistry is so great. And they feel this bond and it just came to be one happy family."
The recruitment of the cast also resulted in the script itself evolving, especially in regards to how the action sequences were staged.
"From Karen to Lena to all the cast, once they were on board to start a dialogue, it kept evolving. And, it's funny, someone asked me, 'What is good advice for a screenwriter?' I'm not sure I'm there yet that I can give advice, but I guess writing is a lot of listening," Papushado pointed out. "I think Michelle is actually a bad example, because she is by far the biggest action hero of all time. There's no doubt. I mean, she jumps on moving trains with a bicycle. She is an icon. And, of course, once I started talking to her, the first thing I told her was, 'Listen, the script is going to evolve. I'm not putting two guns in Florence's hands. No, no, no, no. You're Michelle Yeoh.'"
He continued, "We actually spent a lot of time thinking, how could we get, not just on the action side, but now that we have Michelle Yeoh, we need something more. Now that we have Angela Bassett, let's change it and put two hammers in her hand because that's just f-cking cool. What else can we bring to her character? So, yes, that process starts when you write a script, but it goes all the way to sound mixing and all of that because it's a living, breathing thing. And they were amazing. I owe them a great deal for contributing and for collaborating with me. The dialogue with them was so fruitful."0comments
You can check out our full conversation with Navot Papushado in the video above. Gunpowder Milkshake hits Netflix on July 14th.
Are you looking forward to the new film? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars!