The Gunpowder Milkshake soundtrack includes music from Bobby Darin, Janis Joplin and The Animals. This article contains minor spoilers for the 114-minute Netflix film. Subscribe to Vague Visages for access to reviews and essays.
Now streaming on Netflix, Gunpowder Milkshake includes a Spaghetti Western-style score and several light rock songs. Karen Gillan stars as Sam, an assassin who attempts to protect a young girl, Emily (Chloe Coleman), from an Irish mobster named Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson). She also reunites with her estranged mother, Scarlet (Lena Headey), and teams up with librarians who moonlight as elite executioners. Instead of rushing Gunpowder Milkshake’s action, director Navot Papushado often uses slo-mo sequences for aesthetic purposes. Haim Frank Ilfman’s score reminds of Ennio Morricone’s most famous compositions, while the featured songs align with the protagonist’s nostalgic perspective.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “You’ll Never Know” by Bobby Darin (00:03:00)
After killing several mobsters, Sam arrives at an old school diner to meet with her boss, Nathan (Paul Giamatti). “You’ll Never Know” plays briefly during the scene, with the title suggesting that Gillan’s character doesn’t fully understand the bigger picture, and the lyrics capturing Sam’s frame of mind as she thinks about her childhood.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Half a Photograph” by Kay Starr (00:03:00)
“Half a Photograph” plays during a transitional scene after “You’ll Never Know.” Young Sam waits in a diner for her mother, unaware that she won’t see her for another 15 years. The song usage implies that Sam loses her “other half.”
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Something on Your Mind” by Karen Dalton (00:08:00)
When Scarlet kills a Russian mobster, Young Sam realizes that her entire life is about to change. The song plays as Allan’s character attempts to process the situation, and wonders about the truth of what just transpired. Sam won’t find clarity until 15 years later.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Try to Remember” by Matt Monro (00:23:00)
Sam makes her presence known at a hospital after saving Emily’s father. She drops the bleeding man in a waiting area, and then drops her gun on a receptionist’s desk. “Try to Remember” shows that Sam has evolved into a cold-hearted assassin, but also that she hasn’t lost her humanity.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “French Disko” by Stereolab (00:58:00)
“French Disko” scores a transitional sequence in Gunpowder Milkshake. Moments after Sam and Emily escape from assassins, the young girl asks to play the car radio. The lyrics correlate with the absurdity of the experience.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” by France Gall (01:07:00)
Written by Serge Gainsbourg, “Poupée de cire, poupée de son” kicks in as a chef works away in his kitchen. He becomes perplexed upon being interrupted by Scarlet, who chastises him for an “unacceptable” mess in the freezer. The easy-going track complements the comedic relief, and the lyrics imply that the chef is just a pawn in the game.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Piece of My Heart” by Big Brother & The Holding Company feat. Janis Joplin (01:24:00)
Madeleine (Carla Gugino) asks Emily to wear headphones and listen to a song. “Piece of My Heart” then scores an extended fight sequence between the librarians and their male enemies. Although Emily doesn’t see the violence, the moment suggests that she’s broken-hearted after realizing the unfortunate truth.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” by The Animals (01:41:00)
A Bob Dylan cover, “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” plays during a stylized fight sequence in the climax. A left-to-right steadicam shot captures various confrontations as the lyrics inform the audience about a changing of the times. The Animals’ version is slower than Dylan’s original, and so it works well for the slo-mo pacing and overall aesthetic.
Gunpowder Milkshake Soundtrack: “Goddess on a Highway” by Mercury Rev (01:49:00)
In Gunpowder Milkshake’s final moments, Emily enjoys a road trip with Sam and company. Once again, she asks to play a song, with the lyrics underlining the uncertain nature of the group’s future. For now, the group of “librarians” are goddesses on a highway, ready for their next adventure.
The Gunpowder Milkshake soundtrack also includes “The Great Pretender” by The Platters. Check out Vague Visages’ Spotify playlist below.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.