PEPPERMINT (2018)

  • Release Date: 28/09/10
  • Director: Pierre Morel
  • Cast: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, Juan Pablo Raba, Annie Ilonzeh

Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is violently wronged when her husband and daughter are gunned down by some merciless adversaries. North tries to bring the perpetrators to justice but the collaboration of crooked cops, paid-in judges and morally corrupt attorneys proves to be too much for her to fight off and she is nearly put in a mental institution herself. She escapes and vanishes for 5 years after which she returns to parcel her perpetrators to hell in a methodical manner.

On paper, Peppermint feels like a film that we have seen a thousand times and it is. However the trailers of the film piqued my interest for it primarily because of the manner in which Jennifer Garner appeared and performed and also because of the fact that the film was directed by Pierre Morel, the man who made two of my favorite action films of all times (Taken, From Paris with Love). It must also be noted that revenge films, if done well, will always strike a chord with the audiences. It strikes you at an emotional core when you are able to identify yourself with the ones who have been wronged and are able to root for them as they take apart the bad guys. It is one of the most primal instincts of man and films based on these instincts generally don’t go wrong if executed well.

Peppermint for me was a mixed bag and the reasons for that are varied. To start with, Jennifer Garner is wonderful in a role that suits her to the‘t’. She is instantly likeable as the mom and within matter of minutes she strikes up a wonderful chord with the audience. Hence when she loses her husband and daughter, you actually feel for her & want her to get retribution. She moves like a boss through the action sequences which makes up a big portion of the film. She is mostly battered and bloody and in all sorts of pain and it is all too evident on her face and expressions. This does a lot to make her act even more real and upto an extent gruesome. She has to act out the film all within herself and in that her charm and charisma comes in handy. She is the kid of actress who you can look at for 2 hours.

The film has atleast four really creepy bad guys (the 3 killers & 1 lawyer who proved them innocent). I would have really loved to see them each get killed separately and in another revenge film I would actually get that but not here. Here what you get is the mere information that all these baddies have already been killed and through the rest of the film we see Riley go after their actual boss cleaning up his henchmen on the way to his throat. This came as a surprise for me as it would have been really cool to see how these four villains are packed off. Even the judge who was instantly hateable was killed off in a jiffy. For a film like this, which spends a lot of time on action sequences, it was a bad idea to let go of four wonderful set-pieces that would actually get the audiences rooting for the protagonist and give them that much needed release.

The action sequences are wonderful. There is no denying that but most of the people getting killed are fall guys and hence it doesn’t have much of an impact on you as you haven’t the kind of hatred for these guys that would make their deaths laudable to you. Garner makes these sequences her own and it’s her charm and charisma that doesn’t let them become completely missable.

The climax of the film also goes exactly the way you think it will go. I would have loved it to be a little different but it is not. Still for some strange reason I was hooked to the film from start to finish. I would majorly attribute that to the wonderful act of Jennifer Garner but the feel of the film also has something to do with it. The supporting players are apt too. John Gallagher Jr. plays a cop that I knew from the beginning had more to him than what was on display and he turned out to be exactly that. The bad guy played by Juan Pablo Raba is perfectly hateable.

Peppermint is not a bad film but it is not even half as fun as some of the better Pierre Morel films and this really broke my heart. The reason for that is simple. This film had the material and the performances to be one of the best action films of this year but ends up way short of that for some strange choices and half hearted approach from the makers. Still I wouldn’t mind watching it a few times to see Jennifer Garner kick some ass.

Rating: 3/5 (3 out of 5 Stars)

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