The Lena Headey Action Thriller On Netflix That’s A Total Blast

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

lena headey

Lena Headey has been extremely busy in the four years since Game of Thrones ended. The actress has kept her schedule filled with various projects, including a ton of voice work in animated series, video games, and a handful of action movies. One of these action movies is Gunpowder Milkshake, a star-studded high-adrenaline action-thriller from director Navot Papushado that is currently streaming on Netflix. 

Though she broke out as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, Lena Headey plays a very different type of mother in Gunpowder Milkshake on Netflix.

Gunpowder Milkshake was first announced at the American Film Market in 2018, but it wasn’t until the next year that the anticipation for the feature began to build after Karen Gillan was announced to play the protagonist, an assassin named Sam. The full female ensemble took shape with the addition of Lena Headey, who was cast to play Sam’s estranged mother, Scarlet, who is also an assassin, and the announcement that Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino would join the film as… you guessed it — a sisterhood of assassins.

The film features an all-star cast of actresses known for playing action roles. Prior to Gunpowder Milkshake, Gillan had already made a name for herself by playing Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as Ruby in the Jumangi sequels. Meanwhile, Headey played Queen Gorgo in Zach Snyder’s 300, and Yeoh’s most iconic role is Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake

In addition to starring in Gunpowder Milkshake and various action films, Gillan and Headey share one more commonality: having starred in iconic television series. Gillan having appeared in Doctor Who, and Headey having been in Game of Thrones — just one more thing that ramped up anticipation for this action feature.

Gunpowder Milkshake explores themes of mother-daughter relationships, redemption, and the consequences of a life filled with violence.

Gunpowder Milkshake opens with a gripping flashback, introducing us to a young Sam (played by Freya Allan), who learns that her mother is leaving town after a job gone wrong. This event sets the stage for a narrative that unfolds fifteen years later when Sam works as an assassin for Nathan (Paul Giamatti), the head of human resources at The Firm.

The heart of Gunpowder Milkshake lies in Sam’s journey to save a young girl named Emily (Chloe Coleman) from rival assassins. To do this, she must team up with her estranged mother and her mother’s former associates, Anna May (Angela Bassett), Madeleine (Carla Gugino), and Florence (Michelle Yeoh).

lena headey gunpowder milkshake
Lena Headey and Karen Gillan in Gunpowder Milkshake

The plot is a captivating blend of action, emotion, and family dynamics, offering a unique twist on the traditional assassin thriller genre. Gunpowder Milkshake explores themes of mother-daughter relationships, redemption, and the consequences of a life filled with violence.

Gunpowder Milkshake made its debut in the United States on July 14, 2021, with a simultaneous limited theatrical release and a digital release on Netflix. This hybrid release strategy was extremely popular during the pandemic as it allowed audiences to enjoy the film both in cinemas and from the comfort of their homes, catering to a wide range of moviegoers.

A sequel to Gunpowder Milkshake is in development.

Critical reception for Gunpowder Milkshake was mixed, but its unique blend of action and emotion garnered attention and discussion within the film community. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 60 percent approval rating based on 164 reviews. Critics praised its stylish action sequences and dynamic cast but noted a lack of depth in the plot. 

Despite the mixed reviews, according to Nielsen, Gunpowder Milkshake found success as the most-watched film in the United States during its release week. Anticipating the enthusiasm, prior to the release of the film, executives at The Picture Company and StudioCanal announced that a sequel to Gunpowder Milkshake was already in the works and confirmed in July 2021 that pre-production had already begun. 

Gunpowder Milkshake

However, despite the high viewership and confirmed sequel, the film didn’t do great at the box office. The Karen Gillan-led film ended up generating only $1 million in ticket sales against a budget of $30 million. Still, despite the low financial results, a sequel is still on the horizon, though it’s unclear when audiences will get to see a Gunpowder Milkshake 2 on the silver screen.

While Gunpowder Milkshake never became as big a hit as the producers probably dreamed it would be, it nevertheless brought a fresh perspective to the action thriller genre. With its dynamic female characters, stylish visuals, and emotionally resonant storytelling, it’s definitely a film worth adding to your watch list.