Strong women, lots of fights and a story of revenge.
The brief premise of “Explosive Cocktail,” which recently entered the Amazon Prime Video catalog, can be applied to an endless list of feature films from the past three or four decades. Here, the narrative centers on Sam (Karen Gillan), a young professional assassin who follows in the footsteps of his mother, Scarlet (Lena Headey), and works for a secret organization known as The Firm. When one of her missions gets out of hand and ends with the death of a dangerous man’s son, everyone turns on her and it’s up to the protagonist to fight for her life and protect those she loves. .
When we look at the film structure designed by director Navot Papushado, few elements really hold our attention and promise an original adventure. However, it’s the charisma and chemistry of the cast that keeps us hooked on the small screen from start to finish – especially considering the weight each of the cast puts on this epic saga. After all, in addition to the aforementioned duo, we have the presence of Carla Gugino, Angela Bassett and Michelle Yeoh as a trio of “librarians” who, in fact, are part of a society of assassins; Paul Giamatti at the head of the Cabinet; and Chloe Coleman as an innocent little girl who is drawn into an endless cycle of bloodshed and becomes Sam’s “student”.
It must be said that Papushado “plays it safe”: there is an appreciation of a comfort zone of the genre explored which is present in each of the acts and each of the sequences. Sam is the ultimate portrayal of the vengeful anti-heroine whose mother disappeared for fifteen years before their long-awaited reunion – and she channels her anger and frustration into dangerous antagonists who stand between her and her goal. Gillan does a tremendous job here within all self-imposed limits and, despite some similarities to his roles in “Guardians of the Galaxy” or “Jumanji”, always seeks to spice up the character’s arc with a cold indifference befitting the work itself. Headey poses as an extension of his daughter and, despite all the problems he’s had in the past, tries to regain a sort of fame that borders on utopia.
Gugino, Bassett and Yeoh carry immense strength and help in the elaboration of the work and in balancing the various technical errors that emerge in nearly two hours of canvas. There is no surprise as to the beauty of her characters’ performances – after all, the versatility of actresses has already been proven countless times in various productions; what catches our attention is the conflict of personalities which emanates from the trio, as if they were gears of a kind of distorted “surveillance” which does not admit betrayal. It is in this aspect that the three make the most of a scenario which, signed by Papushado and Ehud Lavski, does not really have much new to tell us.
It’s almost instantaneous to draw parallels between the feature film and so many others in the genre – but one specific similarity catches our eye: the whole artistic delineation and performance plunges us directly into the “John Wick” franchise. , whether through the anachronism of the neon imagery and costumes of the 70s, or because of the exaggeration of the framing and photography camp. The filmmaker makes it clear that, even if he does not fully master the story to tell it differently, he can bet on elegant and nostalgic visuals (in the best sense of the two words). Well, even the cafeteria appears as an alternate version of the Continental Hotel in the saga starring Keanu Reeves – functioning as a safe space where the guns are removed so that there are no fatalities.
The feeling of being scammed is permanent and for this reason it can be constructed as a mere spectacle of shootings and clashes without any substance. It’s obvious that trying to dive into a shallow pool is the right recipe for injuring yourself – but walking on its surface isn’t necessarily a bad thing. “Explosive Cocktail” keeps its promises, which is to say to interest us in a fun weekend with a flashy cast and charming flourishes: the fight scenes can meet with some amateur misunderstandings, but not enough to deflect our attention.
Perhaps the film’s greatest success has been its ability to merge everything that exists into one place. Like a cocktail, the ingredients have been added without any measure in a blender – then blended into a delicious weave that, seen in the parameters it sets, may satisfy audiences (and, who knows, wanting more).
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