“Peppermint” is one of those revenge movies that fails to stand out from the crowd. It’s not great nor is it bad, it just manages to exist. If you’re a fan of violent payback films, this one likely won’t disappoint. It may leave a rotten taste in some viewers’ mouths with its icky feeling of racism and general unpleasantness, but it’s at least as entertaining as other forgettable films in the genre. Think of it as “Death Wish” with a female star.
After a brutal drive-by shooting leaves her husband and 10 year old daughter dead, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) awakens from a coma in a state of anger and clarity. After she correctly identifies the gang members responsible, she faces the harsh reality of a corrupt police department and legal system.
Five years go by and Riley is on the run, showing up everywhere from an underground fight club in Hong Kong to robbing a gun store in downtown Los Angeles. During that time, she has transformed herself from suburban mom to urban guerilla. Hell-bent on exacting revenge that our justice system didn’t, Riley goes on an insane murdering spree and wipes out the criminal underworld and corrupt bystanders one by one.
I hate to call bloody violence refreshing, but this R-rated action film doesn’t shy away from the gruesome aftermath of gun play, stabbings, and beatings. Garner is more than convincing as a grieving wife and mother turned vigilante. She handles the physicality and emotional depth (or what there is) of the role with ease. The rest of the cast is paper thin and filled with stereotypes. Watch as tattooed Latino gang members line up to get slaughtered by Skid Row’s badass guardian angel.
The film may be formulaic, but it has its moments. The ending sets it up for a sequel — one that probably will never happen, but one that I’d watch.