By Lynn Venhaus
The pleasure of seeing actresses have a blast going gangster is one of the joys of the interestingly titled “Gunpowder Milkshake.”

However, that big plus can’t overcome the minuses. With a graphic novel-comic book-video game feel, the look is cool — but the characters are as thin as the by-the-numbers story.

As a professional assassin, Scarlet (Lena Headey), was forced to abandon her daughter Sam and go on the run. Cut to years later, and a grown-up Sam (Karen Gillan) is a cold-blooded hitwoman. Like mother, like daughter.

After a high-stake mission gone-wrong has unleashed a gang war, Sam has gone rogue, with an innocent 8-year-old Emily (Chloe Coleman) in tow. Sam reconnects with her mother and her former sidekicks, also lethal hitwomen with specific skill sets. An avenging war ensues.

This over-the-top action movie is heavy on fantasy. Seriously, how many females, dealing with numerous infirmities and adversity, can be relentless one-woman wrecking crews, even if they are professional assassins?

There is an excessive body count, featuring a plethora of bad guys’ heads rolling, squished, shot, stabbed and maimed in multiple bloodbaths. Some are in slow-motion, other fights are martial arts focused, and editor Nicolas De Toth makes sure blood spurts often.

Israeli director Navot Papushado, who also co-wrote the script with Ehud Lavski, must idolize kitschy maestro Quentin Tarantino, for he tries to emulate his blood-drenched films, in particular “Kill Bill, Vol. 1 and 2,” through a stylized – and farcical – approach.

Cinematographer Michael Seresin alternates between grit and an unreal quality to film the scenes, and David Scheunemann, the production designer, follows suit. The color palette is striking, using neon colors and artificial set pieces that resemble music videos, such as a diner, bowling alley, abandoned mall and an old-school library/museum.

But those diner milkshakes look fake, which is annoying.

Music is an incessant component in the movie, with Janis Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart” effective to punctuate a brutal shoot-out. Composer Haim Frank Ilfman has propulsive music to escalate the combat and a keen ear for a hipster soundtrack.    

Lithe Karen Gillan, who made a name for herself as Amy Pond in “Doctor Who” and broke through as Nebula in “The Guardian of the Galaxy” films, demonstrates spunk and agility as she mows down the male goons.

An 8-year-old girl, who becomes Sam’s “apprentice,” is played with savvy and poise by veteran child actress Chloe Coleman, who was in last year’s “My Spy” and the HBO mini-series “Big Little Lies.”

The angle here is that three generations of women are empowered to fight for survival in this escalating gang war. But it is uneven in attention.

For instance, Sam’s mother, Scarlet, is played by “Game of Thrones” Lena Headey, but she is only seen in the beginning and then re-appears before two climactic showdowns. Yes, not one, but two.

Mom’s fierce sisterhood of Carla Gugino as Madeleine, Michelle Yeoh as Florence and Angela Bassett as Anna May are not used nearly enough, which is a shame, because they mow down guys with inventive implements of destruction once their ‘house’ is breached.

It is a lot, and wait, there’s more. Don’t try to make sense of it all because it is not going to add up.

The generic, formulaic script doesn’t help itself with the antagonists having such a bland name as The Firm ( the shady suits who direct the mayhem). Usually reliable Paul Giamatti, as their facilitator, doesn’t fare much better.

The director displays some panache, so it’s not all misguided. It needed a better, more substantive script to connect with the stylish format.

Nevertheless, fans of such genre films may not mind the lack of originality. At first glance, the film seemed to have potential as a female-heavy “Baby Driver,” but wound up a very lukewarm “John Wick” wannabe, a disappointment.

“Gunpowder Milkshake” is a 2021 action-thriller directed by Navot Papushado and stars Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh and Chloe Coleman. Rated R for strong bloody violence throughout and language, the runtime is 1 hour, 55 minutes. The film began streaming on Netflix July 14. Lynn’s Grade: C.

Jason Momoa, who rocketed to superstardom in Justice League (2017) and Aquaman (in theaters now), will attend Wizard World St. Louis on Saturday, April 6, at America’s Center. Momoa will greet fans, sign autographs and pose for photo ops.

Momoa had significant roles in the popular series “Baywatch” and “Stargate: Atlantas” before a turn as “Khal Drago” on the acclaimed “Game of Thrones” was followed by his first appearance as “Aquaman” in Batman vs. Superman Dawn of Justice in 2016. That led to a larger role as the undersea superhero in Justice League and star billing in the current hit release.

Momoa’s other credits include the title role in both Conan the Barbarian (2011) and Braven (2018) and opposite Bruce Willis and John Goodman in last year’s Once Upon a Time in Venice.

Momoa joins Sean Astin (The Lord of the Rings, “Stranger Things 2”), Chris Kattan (“Saturday Night Live,” A Night at the Roxbury), the “Charmed” trio of Holly Marie Combs, Brian Krause and Drew Fuller, Daniel Cudmore (X-Men, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2) and Thomas Ian Nicholas (Rookie of the Year, American Pie) and more, as well as an outstanding array of programming, live entertainment, cosplay contests, gaming and more at the seventh annual Wizard World St. Louis, April 5-7.

Wizard World events bring together thousands of fans of all ages to celebrate the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and more. The fourth event scheduled on the 2019 Wizard World calendar, St. Louis show hours are Friday, April 6, 4-9 p.m.; Saturday, April 7, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, April 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Kids 10 and under are admitted free with paid adult.

Wizard World St. Louis is also the place for cosplay, with fans young and old showing off their best costumes throughout the event. Fans dressed as every imaginable character – and some never before dreamed – will roam the convention floor and participate in the famed Wizard World Costume Contest on Saturday evening.

For more on the 2019 Wizard World St. Louis, visit http://wizd.me/StLouisPR.

About Wizard Entertainment, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD)Wizard Entertainment, Inc. (www.wizardworld.com) produces comic, gaming and pop culture conventions across North America that celebrate the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, tech, comics, sci-fi, graphic novels, toys, original art, collectibles, contests and more. A first-class lineup of topical programming and entertainment takes place at each event, with celebrity Q&A’s, comics-themed sessions, costume contests, movie screenings, evening parties and more. Wizard Entertainment has also teamed with Sony Pictures Entertainment to find the next generation of movies as well as to engage in a number of strategic initiatives. Additional initiatives may include an augmented touring schedule of Wizard World shows, fixed-site installations, curated e-commerce, and the production and distribution of content both in the U.S. and internationally. Fans can interact with Wizard Entertainment at www.wizardworld.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media services.

The 2019 Wizard World convention schedule is available at: http://www.wizardworld.com/comiccon.