Film Review: “Peppermint” (2018) ★★★★


Jennifer Garner has always been an excellent ‘action’ actress. Her “Alias” or “Electra” was enough to put her in the ranks of Charlize Theron, Sigourney Weaver and Angelina Jolie. The best thing about Ms Garner is the fact that she picks only specific roles or characters and breathe into them the sort of life only she could. “Peppermint” is not a simple revenge story centering on a young mother. It’s much more than just a movie where the main character kills bad guys left, right, and center. It’s about justice that failed to be served. Justice, unfortunately, has never been so corrupt. And the same justice is needed again to serve its main purpose. We may, of course, disagree with Riley North’s method. But sometimes it’s, I guess, the only way to make a point.

It’s December 31st. Riley North and her beloved husband, Christopher, are getting ready to celebrate Carly’s, their adorable daughter, birthday. Not everything goes as expected so the three decide to go out to feast on pizza and have fun at the Christmas Carnival at least. “Everything in you was leading to this day”, Riley had said earlier in the day to her husband and hours later she promises, “it’s going to be a big night”. Unfortunately, that night does appear unique, but in a bloody way when Diego Garcia sends three assassins to kill Christopher and his family to use them later as examples for others. But Diego Garcia underestimates his target, as after her survival five years later, Riley comes back with one single mission – to bring down every single person responsible for the brutal murder of her loved ones.

The opening scene takes the viewer to the present time where Riley fights with a man inside his car, “You don’t remember me, do you?” she shouts at him. But when it felt like she is about to lose her patience, she does not wait for his response and sends another message to him in the form of a bullet that ends up in his head. It is then that we are taken back five years, to the events that lead to such a devastating night. After an injury, Riley, who’s already lost her husband and her daughter, wakes up at the local hospital. Detective Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher) and Detective Moises Beltran (John Ortiz) pay her a visit saying that witnesses from the scene are not willing to step up. And that they know everything but can’t prove nothing, almost leaving the woman without any hope.

Riley, however, did step up as a witness and offered her help to look at the three suspects police captured. Even though she was able to recognize in them the killers of Chris and Carly, the corrupt justice system lets them go and, moreover, labels her as an incompetent witness on the account of presumably taking a drug that might have distracted her mind and judgemental skills. The judge, who was not happy with Riley’s aggression in the court, orders her to be sent to a psychiatric clinic but the desperate woman manages to escape, only to reappear five years later to conduct one murder after another in an executional style having one agenda and an unflinching resolve.

Written by Chad St. John and directed by Pierre Morel, “Peppermint” is a superb action drama that not only exceeds expectations but goes way beyond it. From the start to the finish, the film never slows down its pace nor the idea. We knew right from the beginning who was responsible for Chris and Carly’s death as did Riley. But her fight was not just against a big cartel or a well-known criminal, but the corrupt police as well who helped Diego Garcia lurk in the shadows and do whatever he pleases. When Riley comes to the same judge’s home who ordered her to be locked up, she looks at him with an empty emotion on her face, like she could not care less and says, “you did not serve your justice, your honor. I will.” And that is what “Peppermint” is about – the justice that should always find its way to be served.

In conclusion, apart from a well-written screenplay or directorial approach, the film delivers outstanding action scenes. Jennifer Garner’s physical readiness was impressive. The actor had one goal in her mind – to allow her mind, body, strength, and soul to be taken over by Riley North to not only entertain us grateful viewers but help the woman send her own message through the silver screen – that every action will have its consequences, good or bad. Indeed, Riley did suffer a great loss, but she learns to use her pain as a tool against the corrupt society, bad people, and the police that in most cases is never there to assist.

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