Peppermint is not what you expect. The trailer makes it looks like something and the name of the movie makes it seems like something totally different but in the end, you arrive at a result that is the exact opposite of what you expect going in. Peppermint will suffer to the comparison of the movies in the same genre. Before going into the screening, I was expecting a movie à-là Taken and it is very similar to that.
After her husband accepts to go rob the head of a branch of a large cartel, Riley North sees her family get murder in front of her. When the trial against the three men who killed her husband and daughter is ruled in the favour of the three criminals, Riley escapes and disappears. On the fifth year anniversary of the murder of her loved ones, Riley reappears and goes on a mission to kill everyone connected to the murder of her child and husband, she’s on the path of revenge. (See the similarities with Taken yet?)
While the movie suffers from the predictable plot points (I heard myself calling out what was going to happen before it happened) and a relatively thin story, Peppermint deserves a lot of recognition when it comes to the acting and it’s action sequences. The movie goes where you expect it to go, it even ends in the way you think it will end, setting the stage to a future if the movie is a success, but that doesn’t take away from how much of a good time it was to watch this movie.
Jennifer Garner is solid in this movie. It’s nice to see her back into that kind of role. It’s something really nice to think that one of the very first things that she was on was Alias and to see her now, years later, kick-ass that way again is pretty thrilling. The supporting cast is also stellar, but a strong John Gallagher Jr. plays a role that we are not used to seeing him in and runs away with it in a great performance. But I have to note that the villains of the story were all very predictable and quite honest played on the trope of the Latino Gangster that Hollywood uses too much and is quite stereotypical.
The strongest point for Peppermint is its action. Slick, well choreographed and relatively believable, the ways that were found to diversified the kills where impressive. The action was never boring and highlighted the intelligence of the character in a way that it made sense why she was able to do everything she was doing. My main problem with all the action was that Riley often took on a man twice her size while being badly hurt and it was hard for me to suspend my disbelief and trust that she would be able to kill them hand to hand.
Peppermint suffers from pacing issues. The story moves very fast, too fast even. The flashback to how she got there is so quick it makes no sense. The event that took place over a day in order to get to the killing of the family makes no sense. In less then a day, Riley insulted a mom who in returned organized a party at the same exact time as Riley’s daughter’s birthday party (the same day), her husband accepted to go on a job to earn money, then rejected it, only to be killed on that same night when word got to the leader then this would happen. It was too fast and had it been spread out, it would have made more sense.
Peppermint isn’t going to reinvent action movies. But it’s an action movie that deserves recognition. It is lead by a woman, there is not one shot of her being in a bra to take care of her wounds, the action is more than believable and it is actually good. While I do believe the movie needs another name, Peppermint is an action movie that you should check out if you want fun and some time to turn off your brain for a few hours.