Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of Gunpowder Milkshake Explained

Contains spoilers for "Gunpowder Milkshake"

It would seem that 2021 is the summer of the "John Wick"-inspired revenge action movie. We already saw Bob Odenkirk surprise audiences as Hutch Mansell in "Nobody," and this summer there are two separate women-led films that draw similar inspirations: the upcoming "The Protégé" starring Maggie Q, Samuel L Jackson, and Michael Keaton, and the just-released-to-Netflix movie "Gunpowder Milkshake," which boasts a cast including Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Michelle Yeoh, Angela Bassett, and Carla Gugino.

The plot of "Gunpowder Milkshake" is pretty basic: A hired killer named Sam (Karen Gillan) finds herself on the wrong end of her employers, collectively known as the Firm, after killing the son of one of their competitors and accidentally blowing up a ton of money. Now, she's on the run from the Firm while also needing to protect Emily (Chloe Coleman), the daughter of a man she regrets killing.

"Gunpowder Milkshake" exists within a hyperreal world where diners are fronts for gang activity, libraries are places to exchange old weapons for new ones, and nobody seems to care that there are massive gun fights happening all over the place. That over-the-top world exists to tell Sam's story, and Sam's story is more than just about revenge — it's a story that ends with a focus on two specific things: family and changing the world with said family. 

Let's go over the ending of "Gunpowder Milkshake" and talk about what the film is really all about.

Gunpowder Milkshake is about family

Sam kills for the Firm for two reasons: Her mother Scarlet (Lena Headey) killed for them as well, and Sam has been raised up by one of the Firm's men, Nathan (Paul Giamatti), ever since Scarlet disappeared. And so, throughout the film, the lingering question Emily introduces is whether or not Sam really wants to be a killer. Emily asks Sam if she's a serial killer, and also goes out of her way to prevent Sam from killing people unnecessarily. The fact that Sam is so quick to follow the request of a child is very telling.

"Gunpowder Milkshake" operates using parallels. We find out that Scarlet has to abandon Sam as a child because Scarlet lost her temper, killed someone she wasn't supposed to, and found herself on the run without Sam for Sam's own safety. Once Sam becomes an assassin, we learn that she and her mother share a bad temper. As was the case with Scarlet, Sam's own rage leads her to kill people she's not meant to — the only difference is that Sam winds up taking Emily along with her for the ride, while Scarlet opted to remain a lone wolf.

At its core, the film is about family — both the ones we're born into and the ones we choose. Sam and Scarlet's reunion arguably only happens because after years of being a loner herself, Sam chooses a family in the form of Emily. And then, both Sam and Scarlet work to reunite with their other found family at the Library. Scarlet used to be part of the Library, one of the proverbial librarians who deal in weaponry. It becomes up to current librarians Anna May (Angela Bassett), Florence (Michelle Yeoh), and Madeleine (Carla Gugino) to decide whether or not to let Scarlet and Sam back into the fold.

"Gunpowder Milkshake" answers that question in the end by not only having the librarians join Sam and Scarlet's cause, but also helping defeat all the other killers and gang leaders at the diner before literally riding off into the sunset — at least temporarily. While on one hand, the ending of "Gunpowder Milkshake" is all about embracing the family you have and relying on one another to build the life you want, this is still a revenge picture.

Gunpowder Milkshake is also about women taking power

If you've been paying attention, you'll notice that, with the exception of Paul Giamatti's character Nathan, every single named character we've talked about so far is a woman — and that's clearly not an accident. "Gunpowder Milkshake" opens with Sam saying in voiceover, "There's a group of men called the Firm. They've been running things for a long, long time." 

Not only is every shadowy member leading the Firm a man, but so is every single person Sam and company face off against. The flunkies are all men, the doctor who betrays Sam is a man, and the leader of the Firm's rival group Jim McAlester (Ralph Ineson) is also a man. In fact, when McAlester explains at the end of the movie why it is that he's so upset about his son being killed by Sam, he talks about how he can't relate to his own daughters and that, without a son, he feels like a stranger and an outsider in his own home.

This is a classic "women throw off the yoke of men's oppression" story. Every bad thing that happens to Sam and her found family happens because of the men around them. The only two men who seem to be classified as decent are Sam's father and Emily's father David (Sam Anderson) — both of whom wind up dead.

Even the diner that acts as a space for assassins, thugs, and gang leaders to meet is run by a woman named Rose (Joanna Bobin). And while Rose has a no-weapons policy at the diner, the ending of "Gunpowder Milkshake" involves Rose breaking that rule so Anna May and Florence can help Sam and Scarlet take out Jim McAlester and all his goons.

The end of the movie shows Emily and Sam informing Nathan that they have all his contacts and will kill everyone in the Firm unless Sam and her family is left alone — a family entirely comprised of women. The promise of further retribution against the Firm also has the handy benefit of leaving things open to a sequel, should the film do well.

"Gunpowder Milkshake" is streaming on Netflix now.