Peppermint Review: A boring and uninteresting vengeance tale.
Vengeance seems to be a popular theme in 2018. Film’s like Eli Roth’s Death Wish and The Equalizer 2 have garnered very mixed reactions and perhaps shown that “by the book” revenge films have very little life left. Jennifer Garner only furthers this idea with her new film Peppermint that puts a female spin on the genre, but never has any fun.
Peppermint is incredibly hard-nosed and focuses on the violent antics of a mother seeking revenge on a local drug cartel after they kill her family. Now if this sounds pretty typical, that because it totally is. Audiences basically get to see Garner butcher up all of the corrupt people that did her wrong and go down a path that leads to her justice. Now while this is a pretty basic plot seen in plenty of other movies, some films can take this and make something interesting.
Unfortunately, Peppermint lacks energy or anything creatively fun and honestly feels incredibly boring for an action thriller. It takes itself very seriously, but tries to have Garner deliver action one-liners and try to make her character, Riley North, a certified bad-ass. It feels more like a fantasy film than anything else as North’s backstory feels a little whimsical and convoluted. Garner does her best, but she just couldn’t make her more naturally nurturing personality as an actress hide in order for her more intense moments to be great.
It’s more violent moments also feel a little underplayed. Peppermint has the mindset that it has incredibly violent acts of revenge, but these acts end up being tame since the camera tends to cut away and doesn’t show North enacting revenge to every wrongdoer on-screen.
The other characters are pretty much wasted in the film. Even with talent like John Gallagher Jr., Peppermint tries to only focus it spotlight on Garner and it leaves all the interest for other characters in the dust. Not to mention, the film attempts to divert expectations and stray away from the norm with these smaller characters, but ultimately puts nothing behind them and leaves the audience more confused by their decisions. Honestly, if they just stuck to the more typical plot points of the genre, they probably would’ve been better off.
The only good thing that Peppermint really shows is that a by the book revenge story just doesn’t work anymore. Revenge films can have the extreme violence they desire, but they need to have a little fun at the same time. It unfortunate to see Jennifer Garner in a film that isn’t worth her talents and while she does her best, it’s just not enough. When looking for another tough female leading role, Garner should look for something with better material.