• Directed by Pierre Morel
  • September 7, 2018

When a mother’s family is killed by a local gang she sets out on a path of revenge against all involved.

Jennifer Garner stars as our hero Riley North who is a typical suburban mom struggling to make ends meet as her and her husband raise their young daughter. Her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) is on the shady side and in the opener runs afoul of a local gang who, ignorant of his refusal to participate in theft against them, decides to make an example out of him. While at a carnival, Riley’s daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming) and Riley’s husband are killed in a drive by while Riley is seriously injured.

Given the involvement of Jennifer Garner and what made her big as well as the director involved I expected to embrace this film. The plot is revenge-oriented and one that viewers can easily emotionally identify with. Who when the system fails would not want to exact revenge on those that slaughtered their entire family? But along the line it just failed to click for me.

I give Peppermint points for being more realistic than other revenge films. Right after the incident Riley does not become a gun toting bad ass. We see the character fall apart as she clings to the hope that the system will come through for her. When it does not she loses it and she disappears. In a moment that will give those with jobs they hate we learn she robs her shit job just before going underground. Time passes and she returns to her hometown having prepared herself to take out her enemies. Everyone from a snooty school mom that screwed her daughter’s birthday party thus forcing Riley and her husband to take their daughter to the fateful carnival to cheer her up to the gang that killed her family get doled out a little of Riley’s rather violent brand of justice.

Riley goes about taking out those that helped set her families killers free. She kills the lawyer that tried to bribe her into silence who also discredited her on the stand. She takes out the corrupt judge that was bought off by the gang by blowing him up with explosive rope largely because he cannot remember who she is. Her opening salvo after coming back is to kill the three gang members that were in the car that conducted the drive by and hang them from a Ferris wheel at the carnival where her family fell apart. Very cool and messed up stuff!

I give Pierre Morel points for making us think one thing in the film but effectively giving us another. Early on they make it clear that there is a mole inside the police department. Someone is working with the gang to undermine investigations or get officers killed. John Ortiz is cast as Detective Beltran who spends much of his time early in the film trying to warn his partner Detective Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.) away from any involvement in Riley’s case or the following chaos when she returns. This is the kind of movie I would expect Ortiz to play the bad guy in and they certainly make you think it is him but it turns out the rat is Carmichael.

Jennifer Garner gained widespread attention in the series Alias which was an action-oriented spy thriller. She showed she knew how to handle kinetic action. My main issue is that the action scenes in Peppermint are filmed rather blandly. There is nothing less than what you would find in other action-oriented films contained within them. But the framing of the shots just does not excite. It has an almost bad television quality to it as if this was a cheap movie that the network gave to a first-time director. The thing is Morel knows action (see From Paris With Love) but he just halfhearted it here. And I think that is where the film largely fails. Its action scenes do not pack a punch.

And despite having a good script and a character whose cause you can easily support, the film does not quite click because of it. It is not the attempt to portray realism but rather the inability to create tension or excitement or anything with what was going on.

We have good performances and an interesting take on the revenge film. You hate the villains and really want everybody that ever f****d Riley over get what they deserve. The climax does help to repair the film as does the ending in the hospital. If it had gone down any other way I would have seriously despised this movie. Still though it is not quite enough.

Peppermint has plenty of elements to make a great action film but is ultimately done in by the poor shooting of the action sequences. It is not terrible but not a must see. I will give this an if you want.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

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