The Gunpowder Milkshake cast features Karen Gillan, Lena Headey and Paul Giamatti. This article contains spoilers for the 114-minute 2021 Netflix film. Subscribe to Vague Visages for access to reviews and essays.
Karen Gillan stars in Gunpowder Milkshake but unfortunately doesn’t receive enough material to showcase her full skill set. Yes, there are impressive action sequences, and there’s also a heart-felt backstory, but Navot Papushado’s 2021 Netflix film heavily relies on all-too-familiar archetypes that will entertain a world of streamers but also put others to sleep. Here’s a spoiler-free breakdown of the main players in Gunpowder Milkshake.
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Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Karen Gillan as Sam
Character Profile: An assassin who lost her father as a child and was abandoned by her mother. Fifteen years later, Sam fights for independence and justice in a criminal world dominated by males. In Gunpowder Milkshake, she reaches out to a sisterhood of “librarians” who secretly operate as executioners, and hopes to protect a young girl from a life of emotional trauma.
Gillan’s Resume: Nebula in the MCU, Kaylie Russell in Oculus, Amy Pond in Doctor Who, Eliza Dooley in Selfie, Ruby in Jumanji: The Next Level
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Freya Allan as Young Sam
Character Profile: Young Sam appears in flashback sequences during Gunpowder Milkshake. She’s aware of her mother’s questionable behavior but doesn’t anticipate a permanent separation. Young Sam grows up without her birth father and mother, which makes her feel detached from the rest of the world.
Allan’s Resume: Young Minerva in Into the Badlands, Ciri in The Witcher, Kail in The Third Day
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Paul Giamatti as Nathan
Character Profile: As a self-proclaimed “HR” representative for a criminal organization known as the The Firm, Nathan reveals little about himself in Gunpowder Milkshake. He’s loyal to Sam but will presumably double-cross her to please the Irish mobster Jim McAlester.
Giamatti’s Resume: Chuck Rhoades in Billions, Harvey Pekar in American Splendor, Miles in Sideways, Joe Gould in Cinderella Man, Freeman in 12 Years a Slave
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Lena Headey as Scarlet
Character Profile: In the past, Scarlet joined a sisterhood of assassins after her husband’s murder. She later abandoned her daughter Sam after a diner-incident-gone-wrong. Scarlet eventually teams up with the librarian sisterhood in their quest to defeat the Irish baddie Jim McAlester.
Headey’s Resume: Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, Queen Gorgo in 300, Ma-Ma in Dredd, Mary Sandin in The Purge, Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Angela Bassett as Anna May
Character Profile: The unofficial leader of a librarian sisterhood of executioners. Anna May is responsible for helping Scarlet in the past, and also for providing the appropriate assistance to Sam in the present timeline. She’s a stern yet fair leader who values feedback from her colleagues.
Bassett’s Resume: Reva Styles in Boyz n the Hood, Betty Shabazz in Malcolm X, Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It, Stella Payne in How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Ramonda in the MCU
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Carla Gugino as Madeleine
Character Profile: A member of the librarian sisterhood. Madeleine is thoughtful of others and urges Anna May not to use curse words. She’s especially protective of Emily and shows that she’s capable of being a leader.
Gugino’s Resume: Ingrid Cortez in Spy Kids, Lucille in Sin City, Laurie Roberts in American Gangster, Sally Jupiter/Silk Spectre in Watchmen, Olivia Crane in The Haunting of Hill House
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Michelle Yeoh as Florence
Character Profile: Florence is a calming presence in the librarian sisterhood. She doesn’t say much, but seems to understand the personalities of her colleagues. Florence is arguably the “brains” of the operation, a character whose backstory will likely be revealed in the sequel.
Yeoh’s Resume: Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies, Yu Shu Lien in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Mameha in Memoirs of a Geisha, Aleta Ogord in the MCU, Eleanor Young in Crazy Rich Asians
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Ralph Ineson as Jim McAlester
Character Profile: An Irish mobster who shows up in the second half of Gunpowder Milkshake. Jim claims that he’s a feminist, but reveals a telling story that suggests he’s unable to relate to women. And that’s why Jim targets Sam — because she killed his son at the beginning of the movie.
Ineson’s Resume: Chris Finch in The Office, Amycus in the Harry Potter franchise, Dagmer Cleftjaw in Game of Thrones, Connor Nutley in Peaky Blinders, General Tarakanov in Chernobyl
Gunpowder Milkshake Cast: Chloe Coleman as Emily
Character Profile: The daughter of a man who Sam kills early on in Gunpowder Milkshake. Her life is threatened by Jim, which inspires Gillan’s antihero to look after the girl. Emily becomes an unofficial member of the librarian sisterhood due to her intense experiences.
Coleman’s Resume: Idit Ovadia in Transparent, Skye Carlson in Big Little Lies, Sophie in My Spy, Nevaeh in Upload, Fifi in Kinderwood
The Gunpowder Milkshake cast also includes Michael Smiley (Kill List), Joanna Bobin (Bridgerton), Adam Nagaitis (The Terror), Samuel Anderson (Doctor Who), Ed Birch (Cruella) and Mai Duong Kieu (Tatort).
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.