September 20, 2018

Movie Review: Peppermint

When people ask me what I thought of Peppermint, my answer is always the same. I tell them that the movie is nothing but a collection of missed opportunities. On some levels I liked it, but on other, more, levels, I just did not. I was relatively excited to see it, too. There are things to like about it, but when you watch it you will notice things, things they should have done, beats they should have taken, moments of genuine character they should have let happen. After awhile it just becomes annoying. However, anecdotal evidence proves that the people around me enjoyed it considerably more than I did.

The movie was directed by Pierre Morel, who has made some pretty good movies in the past. He made the parkour-centric movie, District B-13, then he had the one that put him on the map, Taken. With regards to Peppermint, the best I can say about it, is that it is certainly better than his last outing, The Gunman. On the writing side, you have Chad St. John with his second feature, which, like Morel, is better than his prior, London has Fallen.

The story follows your everyday housewife, Riley North (Jennifer Garner). One fateful night, her husband and daughter are brutally gunned down by a gang. Now, if that isn’t bad enough, she identifies the shooters, but it isn’t enough and the gang members are set loose back on the streets. This sets her off and she runs, disappears, and goes underground. The story picks up 5 years later when she resurfaces in town and sets about eliminating everyone responsible for her family’s murder and those who let those responsible get away. If it was a superhero tale, it is Punisher by way of Batman.

As you can see, it is not a fresh story, but it is one that has been very durable over the years popping up in all sorts of films from the serious to the silly. It all comes down to the execution. The problem is, in this case, the execution falls short. I really don’t want to get into to many specifics, but one of the biggest mistakes is in what is, ostensibly, a revenge movie, you don’t get to see her exact much of her revenge. Yes, there is action, but the people you want to see get the crap beat out of them, all we see is the aftermath. This is something that repeats itself through the film.

Another problem is the perspective. Too much of the movie is filtered through the eyes of the law enforcement that is pursuing her (police and FBI). Garner’s character is an interesting one, a transformative one, but we are never allowed inside. We are forced into role of spectator rather than eager participant in her path of revenge.

One last thing I want to mention is there are moments where they want this vengeful housewife to be treated as some manner of guardian angel/savior of skid row. They indicate this with the police showing how there is virtually no crime on skid row since she showed up, and this mural on the side of a building showing her as an angel with guns for wings. This doesn’t even touch on the kids that seem to know who this woman is. The thing is, they never show her doing anything to stop crime on skid row. Frustrating.

On the other side of the coin, there are somethings i like. Morel can shoot this type of film well, and he manages to make moments effective. He is not a terrible director. He needs a guiding hand. I wish this was made with Luc Besson as producer, like they did on Taken. These two together could have crafted a fine movie, at least better than this.

Then we have Jennifer Garner. She is perfect for this role. It really is the role I’ve been waiting for since the days of Alias. What I have always liked about her, is her ability to be this bad ass, ass-kicking woman, but at the same time be completely emotional and vulnerable. This is a role that lets her bring that all to the screen, and she does it so well. It is very effecting. It is just a shame we were not allowed to see her transformation or be a part of her vengeance.

Peppermint is a film that could have been. It has the shell of what we need, but when you watch, the emptiness is revealed. It has a bit of a distracting shine on the surface, but once you are past the glare, it proves to be a hollow experience. Honestly, I would not mind seeing Garner reprise this role with a better written tale. Seriously.

Not Recommended.

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