“Peppermint” has some nice moments, but most of the movie is wasted. It tries to splice a family murder thriller, a case drama, and a vigilante thriller; and most of it is either tired, annoying, or routine. At least I’ve seen worse action movies this year alone (“Mile 22,” “Death Wish,” etc.) than this.
The movie introduces us to Riley North (Jennifer Garner), who lost her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and little birthday girl Carly (Cailey Fleming) to a drug cartel at the Christmas carnival. Turns out her husband originally planned to rob the drug lord Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) in order to provide for his family, and that’s why they murdered them.
Riley saw the shooters and is able to recognize them, but the opposing lawyer tries to bribe her and the judge (Jeff Harlan) is corrupt. And when she is sent to a mental hospital because of her attempted assault on the defendants, she makes a run for it.
Five years later, she tracks down the killers, corrupt lawyer, judge, and drug dealers in the style of “Death Wish.” She takes money and weapons, trains herself to be a fighter, and gets herself off the grid. And yet, she chooses not to wear gloves.
The detectives struggling to track her down are portrayed by John Gallagher, Jr. (“10 Cloverfield Lane”) and John Ortiz, but they’re wasted. In fact, Ortiz hates Gallagher, Jr’s behavior during the investigations. And I’m not sure they give a sh*t about Riley’s loss, even during that time.
“Peppermint” only works when Riley attack’s the villains, and her pain for her loss. And I liked the scenes when she threatens a drunk father (Austin Herbert) to give his kid (Tate Birchmore) a better life, and when she gives a rival mom (Pell James) a taste of her own medicine. To me, it’s soothing to watch A-holes getting what they deserve, whether they pertain to death or injuries. Garner does what she can here, but the movie is just plain crappy.
“Taken” was the best movie director Pierre Morel has made, but ever since, he’s made bombs like “From Paris With Love” and “The Gunman,” none of which are fresh or original. Once the main heroine starts killing the drug dealers and murders, you just stop caring. All it is is bullets, bullets, bullets. Add stabbing, lackadaisical detectives, and lackluster drug lords, and boy, is it all the same.
And one more thing: the reason the title of the movie is called “Peppermint” is because the dead little girl loves peppermint ice cream.