THE STORY – Riley North awakens from a coma after surviving a brutal attack that killed her husband and daughter. When the system shields the murderers from justice, Riley sets out to transform herself from citizen to urban guerrilla. Channeling frustration into motivation, the young widow spends years in hiding — honing her mind, body and spirit to become an unstoppable force. Eluding the underworld, the police and the FBI, Riley embarks on a deadly quest to deliver her own personal brand of punishment.
THE CAST – Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba & Tyson Ritter
THE TEAM – Pierre Morel (Director) & Chad St. John (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 102 Minutes
By Kt Schaefer
Lots of bad movies come out every year, and it’s usually easy to tell from a trailer if a particular movie is going to disappoint. “Peppermint” however, manages to hide just how terrible it really is, leaving the viewer to discover it all on their own. It becomes clear from the first few minutes what you are in for by cringe-inducing dialogue and choppy editing and as it continues the movie only gets worse.
Riley (Jennifer Garner) is just your average working mother, trying to make ends meet in a difficult world. When her daughter Carly’s (Cailey Fleming) birthday party goes awry, she and her husband take her out to a carnival instead. Unfortunately, her husband has been making plans to rob a local drug lord and he and her daughter are gunned down just after they get ice cream. Riley does her best to get those responsible convicted but with the judge, the police and even the district attorney on the take for the kingpin she watches justice go down the tubes without ever getting to trial.
Enraged at her loss and the lack of concern by the authorities, Riley sets out to serve justice in her own way. The film cuts to 5 years later and somehow in the intervening years, Riley has become a total badass. But other than a brief glimpse we never find out what happened during those years and are not given any justification as to how she is able to take on a dangerous gang. From robbing gun stores to disappearing on the streets to hardcore fist fights she now knows how to do anything and everything that will help her take her revenge. If only the movie was interested in actually showing us those scenes it might be entertaining. Instead, it casually mentions them during long moments of exposition that are given by characters we don’t really care about. Most of its running time shows her traveling from place to place with brief bursts of action that fall flat due to dull cinematography, bad lighting and visual effects that are meant to make the movie feel gritty but instead look like something out of a teenagers YouTube video.
While “Peppermint” is utterly ridiculous, it takes itself extremely seriously, which is what prevents the film from becoming unbearable. Jennifer Garner helps this along by delivering the over-the-top dialogue and brutal fight scenes with equal skill. The rest of the cast does a decent enough job, but they fade into the background. Oddly enough Method Man makes a brief appearance near the end of the film but doesn’t share the screen with any of the main characters and affects no change in the story so his presence is more confusing than anything else.
Despite being one of the most poorly constructed movies I’ve seen this year, “Peppermint” still managed to be a somewhat enjoyable experience. With a decent performance by Jennifer Garner and an incredibly fast pace, the movie manages to keep things going, pushing one silly idea after another in lieu of building tension or developing its characters beyond the initial impressions we are given. Although “Peppermint” has an outlandish story, predictable script, and terrible editing the movie is never boring even if it’s only because of how unbelievable it can be.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – Jennifer Garner does her best with the material she is given and puts in a solid performance. So outrageous at times that it becomes hilarious.
THE BAD – A poorly constructed story that is more exposition than action. Fast cuts and dark lighting make most of the fight scenes feel flat and uninteresting.