Yay! Jennifer Garner is here to one up Ben Affleck! Get it, girl! I’m on your side!
Truth be told, I’m actually a casual fan of Garner. I think the woman, both on and off screen, is so likable and charming that I always feel this sense of frustration that she’s not in films with better more frequently than she is. Most of them have with ranged from being bad, to just meh. If we’re all being honest, her heyday in terms of films was the mid to late 2000’s with hits like JUNO (2007) and THE INVENTION OF LYING (2009). As far as the 2010’s are concerned, she was in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013), but I mostly hear about McConaughey in that, not her. Quite honestly, her best role in years was LOVE, SIMON. Solid flick, but I do miss her kicking ass as an action gal, rather than kicking ass as a mom, which I’m sure she’s great at in real life. But that’s cheating. She can pull from real life experiences as a mom. Something’s telling me she doesn’t make a habit of going out on a Friday night with her gals to shoot up dirty cops and gangsters, though Lord knows I’d be obsessively in love with her if that’s secretly the case.
The story looks like it’s about a common suburban mom whose husband and daughter were murdered. The justice system fails her and after several years being disappeared, she reappears with a newfound skillset of handling firearms and killing bad guys.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have the criminally underutilized Jennifer Garner, known for LOVE, SIMON (2018), MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN (2016), and THE KINGDOM (2007). In support, we have John Gallagher Jr. (THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST , THE BELKO EXPERIMENT , 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE , and upcoming films SADIE  and UNDERWATER ), John Ortiz (NOSTALGIA , KONG: SKULL ISLAND , THE FINEST HOURS , FAST & FURIOUS 6 , FAST & FURIOUS , and upcoming films BUMBLEBEE  and AD ASTRA ), and Method Man (KEANU , TRAINWRECK , and the upcoming SHAFT ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Pierre Morel, known for THE GUNMAN (2015) and TAKEN (2008). Penning the screenplay, we have Chad St. John, known for LONDON HAS FALLEN (2016). Composing the score, we have Simon Franglen, known for THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (2016). The cinematographer is David Lanzenberg, known for PAPER TOWNS (2015), and the upcoming IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON (2019). The editor is Frédéric Thoraval, known for UNFORGETTABLE (2017).
Overall, dude, I’m so excited. I am royally crushing on this woman and I really want this to be a fun and bad-ass movie. Anything less, and I’m going to have words with her agent. Which… basically means I’m going to bitch and moan on this blog because I have no life. Fun stuff.
This is my honest opinion of: PEPPERMINT
Five years ago, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) was an average suburban wife to her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming). Chris was secretly about to be a part of a scheme to rob from a drug boss known as Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba), but pulled out at the last second to be with his family. However, one night at the local carnival, Garcia has Chris murdered anyway, alongside Carly, and Riley left for dead. Despite the suspects caught, corruption in the justice system prevented the murderers from going to prison and Riley disappears. Five years later, she’s returned with a new set of skills and has been on a revenge rampage against those that killed her family with the police close behind.
Honestly, the only real negative thing that I’m about to say is that I don’t like the title. “Peppermint”? What, because Carly had peppermint ice cream? That’s… pretty dumb. But, as a dumb title is never going to be enough for me to completely chop a point off, then I guess I really really like this movie and had a ton of fun with it.
I’m just going to put it out there, no, this isn’t the best action movie on the market. It’s not as visceral, or intense as John Wick, or as impressively shot as earlier John Woo flicks, and certainly doesn’t add anything new to the action genre. But you know what? I so rarely go into action movies and expect that. Personally, I just want plenty of action, some violence, and a limitation on shaky cam and half-microsecond editing and quick-cuts. I don’t need every action movie to be innovative. Sometimes, it’s just nice to have a fun, gritty action-revenge with a solid leading actor to carry the action and made to look good doing it. This movie delivers on everything that I could have asked for.
Let’s also call this movie out on something… it’s basically The Punisher, the Marvel anti-hero, but with a gender swap, mixed with a bit of DEATH WISH (2018). Spouse and child murdered, hero shot and left for dead, becomes an anti-hero (that’s The Punisher stuff), and then becoming something of a social media icon (DEATH WISH). So the movie is highly derivative. With that said, it’s just as fun and exciting as The Punisher, and a whole lot better than DEATH WISH.
Let’s talk about the lovely Jennifer Garner. Well, she kicks ass, a lot of it, and looks good doing it. No punch felt half-assed or rehearsed, Garner really felt like she was giving every action scene she had. Every punch felt like it hurt, and every bullet and execution felt satisfying. No, Riley doesn’t have much in the way of personality, other than she has a weakness for kids, but honestly, I didn’t really care that much. All of her motivation is laid out in that fifteen minute flashback. She was a great mom, a loving wife, all taken from her and now she’s out for revenge. How much personality do you need your protagonist to have? This isn’t that kind of movie. We want to see bad guys get their just desserts. Sure, I think the movie certainly skips a lot of the important death scenes, making them happen off screen, as well as the torture scenes, but the filler action is still fun to watch.
Also, I’m going to be honest, Carly was killing me. I don’t know what it is about that little kid saying things like, “What an asshole,” or, “You should have knocked her lights out,” that made me laugh so hard, but that girl was a joy to see on screen. I kind of wish her character had lived so she could throw out more sassy lines like that. By the way, one of my absolute favorite moments in this movie is the reunion between Riley and… Peg (Pell James)? Was that her name? The uptight, upscale bitch-mom? Anyway, the reunion was hilariously satisfying.
But, let’s appease those snooty critics and pretentious film-goers who were expecting art for some reason and mention a few negatives.
Garcia has a young daughter. Yup, bet you didn’t know that. Do you care? No? Neither do I, and neither does the movie. She literally shows up as a deus ex machina and never comes back into the movie. About one minute worth of screen time, and I’m betting that’s generous. Lazy writing. Speaking of Garcia, did you know that he’s actually an underling to an even bigger group of jerks? Bet you didn’t know that either. Do you care? Yeah, you get the drill. An entire scene is dedicated to making this clear to the audience and it all goes nowhere. I suppose someone might say it’s sequel-baiting, but… it’s a pretty lazy sequel-bait.
And like I said, I’m a little bummed that we didn’t get to see the more important bad guys suffer. The three men who murdered her family that get strung up on the Ferris wheel, that’s basically the opening of the movie. Even the lawyer who tried to bribe her to keep quiet was killed in a throwaway line. Kinda lame. No… that’s actually frustrating. I mean seriously, people barely like non-corrupted lawyers, let alone legit dirty ones. Don’t they deserved their own scenes of dying horrible deaths? The same with the judge. I wanted to see Garner get in touch with her inner Jigsaw, and make that old fart hurt and beg.
Also… why did she rock a pixie hair-do for three scenes? What’s the story there? Because that was random.
Overall, objectively, this isn’t going to be a timeless classic of the action genre. It’s not exactly masterfully written, many of the characters are cardboard cutouts, and there’s about a million comparisons you can make with other films of its kind. Subjectively, I don’t give a shit and I wanna see this again. Garner sells it for me, and after a very long string of playing moms for most of the 2010s, I’m ecstatic to see her being a mom with a shotgun. The action is easy to follow, there’s a lot of it, I also kind of love the opening title’s hard rock score, and the movie is honest about what it’s trying to be and doesn’t try to be anything more than a straight-up action romp, and I thank it for it. As a recommendation, if you’re a fan of Garner and action movies, then this is worth a viewing. Because even I know this isn’t going to stand the test of time as one of the great action flicks, I won’t say there’s a need to rush out to see it. Wait for a matinee or a discount day, I think it’s more than worth it then.
My honest rating for PEPPERMINT: a strong 4/5
This week’s reviews:
Next week’s reviews:
- THE PREDATOR
- A SIMPLE FAVOR
- WHITE BOY RICK
- WHERE HANDS TOUCH
- UNBROKEN: PATH TO REDEMPTION