Movie review: Peppermint

September 25, 2018
Peppermint
Peppermint

WE’VE liked Jennifer Garner since we saw her in the hit action TV show, “Alias”, that ran for several seasons. On the big screen, we enjoyed her performance in “Pearl Harbor” and “Daredevil” which paired her with Ben Affleck who she married, had three children with until they divorced after 10 years.

She’s been playing nothing but supporting roles lately, like in “Love, Simon”, so we’re happy she’s now back doing a lead role in action flick, “Peppermint”. She plays Riley North, a devoted wife to husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and loving mother to their 10-year old daughter, Carly (Cailey Fleming). Their happy life is turned upside down when Chris, in an effort to improve their life, gets into a messy situation involved a Hispanic crime lord, Diego (Juan Pablo Raba). His family becomes a target and while they’re in an amusement park, a drive by shooting incident leaves Riley seriously injured and puts her into a coma. When she regains consciousness, she’s devastated to find out that her husband and daughter were both killed.

When she recovers, she coordinates with cops and is able to identify the criminals with facial tattoos in a lineup, since she vividly remembers the night of the shooting that happened while she’s holding some peppermint ice cream in cones ordered by her ill-fated daughter. But the subsequent trial is rigged since both the corrupt judge and the prosecutor are under the payroll of the drug lord and, with a loophole, they conspire to discredit her eyewitness testimony.

All the charges are eventually dropped, so the bad guys get freed.  Riley disappears for a while and trains to be a killing machine. When she returns on the 5th anniversary of the crime, she becomes Mother Justice who starts killing anyone associated with the death of her family. Righteous vengeance is indeed mine, as far as Riley is concerned, reminding us of Bruce Willis also putting the law into his own hands in the recent reboot of “Death Wish” and even Denzel Washington in “Equalizer 2”.

The movie is directed by Pierre Morel, who earlier directed and transformed Liam Neeson into an action star in “Taken”. He takes the same strategy in “Peppermint” in making the lead character very sympathetic and the villains truly revolting and deserving of being punished severely. Morel’s directorial style features fast cuts and flourishes to make the pacing quite relentless. Jennifer Garner has shown she can really kick ass in “Alias” and here, she succeeds in showing her formidable action skills as a relentless female vigilante doing Riley’s violent fight scenes and showdowns with the bad guys, making it a kind of “Taken”, but with a female protagonist.

Her talent and charisma combined with her courageous physicality really make her Riley work effectively on the big screen. She even becomes the unstoppable go-for-broke champion of neglected children, like when she confronts an irresponsible father and threatens to blow his head off if he continues to be a crappy dad to his son. In another incident, she punches a bitchy mom on the face as suggested by her own daughter. If you are looking for escapist fun in revenge-oriented action flicks with very high body count, then you will surely enjoy “Peppermint”.