Gunpowder Milkshake

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Sam (Karen Gellan) was barely a teenager when a shootout in a diner ended badly. Her mother, professional assassin Scarlet (Lena Headley), disappeared, leaving her daughter in the care of Nathan (Paul Giamatti), head of HR for a nebulous government organization known as The Firm. Fifteen years later, and Sam is batting cleanup for the same squad that once employed her mother. Sam’s next job puts her in contact with a trio of munitions experts (Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett, and Michelle Yeoh) disguised as librarians. Rounding out our three generations of hitwomen is nine-year-old Emily (Chloe Coleman, in her second feature since My Spy). She doesn’t know it, but Emily’s dad was one of Sam’s assignments. The sick look that crosses the young actress’ face upon learning the truth outshines all of the seasoned pros that surround her. Much of the violence that opens the picture, most notably a standoff in a bowling alley that involves neither guns nor knives, is heard and not seen. Alas, director and co-writer Navot Papushado couldn’t contain himself for too long, and the violence, although cartoony, turns graphic. The climax allows each of our first-generation stars a moment in which to shine. But it’s the quieter scenes involving Emily — particularly when she’s pointing out the similarities between a hired assassin and a serial killer — that make this Netflix offering worth your time. (2021) — Scott Marks

Rated R | 1 hour, 54 minutes
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