Jennifer Garner returns to her heroine roots in this new flick. Read on to see if our movie critic says it’s heroic enough to see in theaters.
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
HERE’S THE STORY: Like many women her age, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is a happily married woman with a husband (Jeff Hephner) and precocious 10 year-old daughter (Cailey Fleming) she loves. But what she doesn’t know is that her husband is considering doing something less-than-legal to help get his family out of their current financial binds …
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.
WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? Taken fans; people who used to love Alias but always wish it was more violent; feminists; independent women; Jennifer Garner fans; people who like action movies that actually worry about their plausibility a little bit; people who thought if Hollywood was going to remake Death Wish remixing it up a little bit would be a good thing.
WHO WON’T (OR SHOULDN’T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People not wanting to a watch a movie where guns are used basically without any thought to recourse in the wake of (seemingly) weekly mass shootings; people who don’t like gratuitous violence; anyone who’s over the concept of Death Wish-style revenge movies; anyone who cannot buy into the concept of the Garner’s character doing what Garner does for an 90 minutes-plus
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.