Jennifer Garner returns to her badass heroine roots with violent-yet-consumable Peppermint
WATCH THE TRAILER(S) HERE:
KEY CAST MEMBERS: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher, Jr., John Ortiz, Clifford “Method Man” Smith, Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Annie Ilozeh, Ian Casselberry, Jeff Hephner and Cailey Fleming
WRITER(S): Chad St. John
DIRECTOR(S): Pierre Morel
Problem is, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) – the man Riley’s husband and his friend Mickey (Chris Johnson) thought about ripping off – catches wind of their scheme and decides to make the pay. Dearly. Riley survives the attack, only to see her receive no justice due to a dirty system that lets Garcia’s associates responsible for the attack get off while trying to punish Riley for seeking justice.
Then she goes off the grid for 5 years … And now, Riley North is back. But the Riley North that LAPD detectives Carmichael (John Gallagher, Jr.) and Beltran (John Ortiz) is dead. And a lot of people that wronged her and her family are about to be, too.
SO IS IT GOOD, BAD OR JUST AWFUL? Peppermint – which takes its name from a scene that does exactly what you think it’s going to do in terms of setting up the rest of the flick – is one of those movies that you watch the trailer, you hear the catchphrases and go ‘Well, that’s pretty much all that’s going on in this joint.” Then you actually watch it and end up going “Well, that was better than I expected.”
As someone who’s seen it, I can tell you without a doubt that Peppermint – which features the most interesting version of anything Jennifer Garner has done character-wise in ages – is a nice 1970s-era exploitation flick with a 2018 flair that is much more enjoyable than you’d expect.
Peppermint works because Garner is fully-committed to the role, looks the part and plays it as straight as one can with a supporting cast that does the same. Much like Eminem on his latest effort Kamikaze, Garner’s North is a woman who feels she has lost everything and now has found a new purpose in life and is determined to make her foes suffer her wrath. But as opposed to going on a rampage with no humanity, North’s new environment makes her feel necessary, a feeling reflected in the film and in turn, is successfully projected to the audience.
Further helping the film are some minor twists, turns and gunplay/fight sequences that avoid being both hacky and add intensity to the film. Likewise, whereas veteran actor John Ortiz (not to be confused with cast mate Johnny Ortiz) adds a solid creditability factor as Beltran by keeping you guessing who is allegiance is to while making sure the film stays on course, Raba’s performance as Garcia – a villain who actually recognizes the danger Riley presents as opposed to instantly writing her off in classic “you’re gonna regret that!” fashion – makes the build to their eventual showdown equally appealing.
Make no mistake, however, watching Garner transform from loving soccer mom to basically Ronda Rousey in her UFC heyday coupled with a Seal Team 6-like focus is entertaining and empowering at the same time. Again, she doesn’t play the role with a “I’m gonna show them what a woman can do” fake coolness, she simply is cool because of what she does and how she does it. There is a reason that despite everything that happens in the world, we still will flock to a movie full of gratuitous violence.
If you’re in the mood to watch Jennifer Garner stomp out a seedy Los Angeles full of lowlifes, Peppermint will deliver a sweet treat – with quite a kick.