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Peppermint (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 7, 2020



Starring Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Jeff Hephner, Cailey Fleming, Eddie Shin, Pell James, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Richard Cabral, Tyson Ritter, Ian Casselberry, Michael Reventar, Kyla-Drew Simmons, Gustavo Quiroz, John Boyd, Michael Mosley, Jeff Harlan, Chris Johnson and Caspar Brun.

Screenplay by Chad St. John.

Directed by Pierre Morel.

Distributed by STX Entertainment. 102 minutes. Rated R.

Dear Jennifer Garner,

I can see why you chose the role of mom-turned-vigilante, Riley North. You really brought your ass-kicking chops to the role and you are so watchable as an action heroine. Maybe it’s the real-life photos showing you as such a good mom. Maybe it’s knowing that you are tougher than Batman. We expect you to be strong and lithe with a marksman’s aim. And you delivered, pounding after pounding, even wounded, you never stopped pushing for your goal.

You deserve so much more than Peppermint.

I cannot remember a lazier script, flowing from one stereotype to another. Character names included the Asian cop named Li (played by Eddie Shin), the drug lord named Diego Garcia (played by Juan Pablo Raba), the uptight blonde cookie mom named Peg (played by Pell James). Present day Riley had become the new guardian angel of Skid Row, while plotting and maneuvering her revenge upon the drug lord and lackeys who murdered her family and got off due to the corrupt legal system. The constant use of the word “bitch” gets old fast, used by the bad guys to describe Riley as they hatch a plot to foil her murderous plans.

The title of the movie? The flavor of ice cream proudly chosen by Riley’s spunky daughter, Carly (played by Cailey Fleming) – allowed two scoops for her birthday treat… minutes before she and her father, Chris (played by Jeff Hephner) are gunned down by the bad guys. Really?

And can we talk about Hollywood’s return to the use of the Magnum PI/Burt Reynolds ‘stache as the mark of a bad guy? Of course, Diego Garcia sports the lustrous facial hair.

Honestly, I’ve had a moment or two since watching Peppermint where I thought maybe, just maybe, the film is trying to be deliberate, to make some kind of offhanded statement about these stereotypes. But then you remember FBI Agent Lisa Inman’s dialogue and performance (played by Annie Ilonzeh) and you realize, no, the direction and script are just so bad.

In the vein of overthinking, there are so many plot points added in passing that turn into gaping plot holes that can only be summed up by the film’s lack of character development. It is easy to understand Riley’s motive in her vigilante response, but really, how does a soccer mom manage to steal $55K dollars from her place of work (a bank) and manage to disappear overseas for five years, pretty much eluding all worldwide detection? That’s a skill set far beyond even the best of us soccer moms. Frankly, that’s the story I want to see. And where did this story pop up in Peppermint? In an offhanded aside as to why the FBI cares enough to get involved.

The script tried to get in a couple of deliberate laughs, one at Peg’s expense (yes!) and the audience responded, but there were far more scenes that met with loud chuckles that I feel certain were not intended to be humorous.

I wanted this movie to be so much better, for Jennifer Garner’s sake and for mother’s everywhere. There were choices made in direction and story that feel like the production staff were anticipating franchise material. Unfortunately, they wrote for an audience which buys into fear mongering and stereotypes, while Jennifer Garner’s market is far savvier. I’m willing to wait for her next film… with hope.

Bonnie Paul

Copyright ©2018 All rights reserved. Posted: September 7, 2018.

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