English Reviews

Review: Peppermint (2018)

Peppermint (2018)

Directed by Pierre Morel | 100 minutes | action, drama | Actors: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Jeff Hephner, Cailey Fleming, Eddie Shin, Method Man, Tyson Ritter, Ian Casselberry, Richard Cabral, Johnny Ortiz, Michael Reventar, Kyla-Drew , Gustavo Quiroz, Pell James, John Boyd, Michael Mosley, Jeff Harlan

Female action heroines are still quite scarce. Jodie Foster did it in ‘The Brave One’ among others; Charlize Theron recently appeared in ‘Atomic Blonde’, but otherwise it is still mainly figures such as Gerald Butler, Jason Statham and Bruce Willis who can take on the role of action hero time and again. The most surprising element in ‘Peppermint’ is that Jennifer Garner takes on the role of avenging angel. It’s not a role you’d expect from Garner any time soon, and that makes it all the more interesting. It’s just a shame that Garner gets very little help from the director and screenwriter, because ‘Peppermint’ is an interchangeable revenge thriller that excels in predictability and clichés.

Oh, look at that posh mother in the schoolyard ranting haughtily at Riley (Garner). Uninhibited by any subtlety, her daughter whispers to her that she should have knocked her down. However, the feud between the two mothers means that no one comes to her daughter’s birthday party. Reason for Riley and her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) to go out to the fair. But when her husband turns out to be very cautiously involved in shady business (of course something involving a Mexican drug cartel), the family evening degenerates into a ruthless shooting, which leaves Riley the only survivor. When the perpetrators are subsequently acquitted, it will come as no surprise to the experienced film viewer that Riley goes on a revenge mission to mercilessly eliminate every criminal who was even indirectly involved in the deaths of her husband and daughter.

In ‘Peppermint’ the gangsters are as usual one-dimensional villains who try to look very intimidating, there is always a corrupt cop walking around somewhere and no character is too bad to summarize the plot once every fifteen minutes; if the viewer can no longer keep up with the oh so challenging script. Garner is an actress who is strong enough to hold the attention, but here has to deal with one-liners like ‘you didn’t serve justice your honor, I will’. It almost hurts to see Garner at work here: of course it’s cool to put her in a completely different setting than in films like ‘Juno’ or ‘Love, Simon’, but the director Pierre Morel ( ‘Taken’) and author Chad St. John (‘London Has Fallen’) scandalously squander almost all of her talent here by turning her character into a caricatured avenging angel. In the action scenes, Garner is more than capable of holding her own, but as soon as dialogues are involved, the laughable script starts to twist a bit.

‘Peppermint’ is an unbridled succession of crime clichés, over-the-top violence and crazy bad guys. The editing is messy to the point of annoying and the total lack of inspiration seeps into every scene. A little bit of self-mockery would have been enough to make the whole thing a bit more manageable, but the problem is that the makers also seem to take it all very seriously, making the tone way too serious. As a result, you can’t even swallow ‘Peppermint’ anymore as unpretentious popcorn entertainment.

Moreover, the moral message of these kinds of films continues to wrestle (see also films like ‘The Equalizer’ and ‘Death Wish’): is fighting violence with violence really the solution, or is it once again a dubious message to spread patriotic-American messages? in favor of firearms possession? As amusing as it is to see Jennifer Garner as avenging angel for once instead of Bruce Willis or Liam Neeson again; ‘Peppermint’ is a film that manages to squander almost every ounce of Garner’s talent through lazy directing and a machine script. Fie!

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