Young mother Riley North (Jennifer Garner) awakens from a coma after her husband and daughter are killed in a brutal attack on the family. When the system frustratingly shields the murderers from justice, Riley sets out to transform herself from citizen to urban guerilla. Channeling her frustration into personal motivation, she spends years in hiding honing her mind, body and spirit to become an unstoppable force – eluding the underworld, the LAPD and the FBI – as she methodically delivers her personal brand of justice. From the director of Taken, this film is being hailed by critics as “a total adrenaline rush from start to finish!” (Dave Morales, Fox TV Houston).
What We Thought:
Peppermint isn’t quite what I hoped it would be, but it’s good seeing Jennifer Garner back doing action. It’s from the director of Taken and I expected it to be a bit less serious and more ridiculous like the Liam Neeson franchise. Don’t get me wrong, it has some great action scenes, but I wanted a bit less from it.
What I mean by that is, I didn’t need as much backstory as the flick provided. It starts out with an action sequence then flashes back a bit to explain how Garner’s character, Riley North, goes from Suburban mom to vigilante killer. I didn’t need all that. I didn’t need a Girl Scout cookies mom being her rival and her husband maybe taking a job he shouldn’t have and her daughter having a birthday party with no one showing up and then going to a carnival and her family dying and a trial with corrupt lawyers and judges. Cut most of that, make her family killed by a drive-by and her not getting justice at court so she does it on her own. That’s all I needed. You have dirty cops and a Latino gang already, you know they are the bad guys, it didn’t need that much layering.
But once the film lets Garner channel her inner Sydney Bristow, her character from Alias, it became a lot of fun. It might not have as much action as John Wick or Atomic Blonde, but I’d say it’s pretty equal to Taken. Garner still looks realistic doing it and takes a beating at times. That’s one thing I like about these newer action flicks, the leads take a beating and aren’t just Rambo defeating armies by themselves without a scratch on him.
Surprisingly I actually liked how the film uses technology and social media in it. I usually LOATHE movies today using cell phones and social media as a gimmick, but it actually worked here. It shows how the local police and feds use social media posts to find patterns and information on events. Riley uses it to aid herself when confronted by a large gang and to flush out a rat. It’s a tool and not a filmmaking gimmick here.
Overall I didn’t love Peppermint, but I certainly didn’t hate it either. Too much story makes the film way more serious than expected. Taken became a franchise and had a prequel TV series because Neeson’s character had a certain set of skills and it was dumb fun. This should have been lighter and dumb as well and it didn’t do much at the box office (not even double its budget worldwide) so I’m not sure if it gets sequels like Neeson’s franchise. Hopefully we see Garner doing more films like this and less kid friendly ones though.
- Justice: A behind-the-scenes featurette with Jennifer Garner & Director Pierre Morel
- Feature Commentary by director Pierre Morel
Cast & Crew:
- Jennifer Garner
- John Ortiz
- John Gallagher Jr.
- Juan Pablo Raba
- Director Pierre Morel
Recommended If You Like:
- John Wick
- Atomic Blonde
- Jennifer Garner (pre-kids movies phase)