In the 2010s, it would appear that there’s no better way to revive a dwindling movie star’s career than to toss them at the center of a gun-fueled revenge flick. From Taken to Death Wish to John Wick, it would appear that what moviegoers are yearning for is good old-fashioned, blood-thirsty vengeance. Not to miss the wave, Jennifer Garner is hitting theaters as a vigilante mom in the decade’s latest – and a strong contender for most vile – toothless shoot-em-up. (Think last year’s Kidnap, but if Halle Berry had a full arsenal at her disposal.) Riddled with the genre’s most glaring clichés and spewing rhetoric that can only be interpreted as caustic fear-mongering, Peppermint rarely goes an entire scene without actively making a case against its own woeful existence.

The laughable script, penned by Chad “London Has Fallen” St. John follows Garner as Riley North (really!), a struggling bank teller who witnesses her husband (Jeff Hephner) and daughter (Cailey Fleming) get viciously gunned down at the world’s stagiest Christmas carnival. After the hopelessly corrupt criminal justice system fails her, Riley is forced to go into hiding, lying in wait to take the law into her own hands. With a little bit of combat training and a lot of heavy weaponry, she turns into some sort of twisted Batman character, taking on a vigilante persona who methodically hunts down all-but-nameless people of color with a level of brutality that would even make Eli Roth blush.  

“…the hopelessly corrupt criminal justice system fails her, Riley is forced to go into hiding, lying in wait to take the law into her own hands.”

Jennifer Garner is more than capable as a physical performer, as even casual viewers of Alias can attest, yet these days it seems she’s consistently relegated to the role of ‘The Mom.’ And while it’s refreshing to see her throwing punches and emptying ammo cartridges again, particularly in such a male-dominated space, a garish bloodbath isn’t exactly a flattering look either. Surely, there’s a middle ground we’re missing somewhere. Garner has proven herself as a versatile player, and she deserves better than a film touting a marketing campaign that finds her draped in a pair of wings fashioned out of artillery. This isn’t even a step up from her Capital One commercials; if anything, it’s a career regression.

Completely devoid of any discernible style or originality, Peppermint is an absolute mess, a haphazard collage of genre tropes – and even direct plot beats – from other (read: better) action movies from the 80s and 90s. Even by the standards set by director Pierre Morel’s lackluster career, this movie is uncomfortably predictable, and this is the same man who helmed 2015’s atrocious The Gunman. With a few minor tweaks, it could actually be sold as a shoddy remake of The Crow. But perhaps it shouldn’t be taken at face value. Maybe Morel intended to create a They Came Together style parody of over-the-top action thrillers. On that level, he succeeds.

It requires extreme deficiencies in both morality and logic in order to get any enjoyment…”

It requires extreme deficiencies in both morality and logic in order to get any enjoyment out of this abomination. And any entertainment to be found in Peppermint is at the movie’s own expense. Not the least of the script’s glaring issues is its tendency to lean heavily on every single offensive stereotype attributed to the Latinx community, and even create some of its own. A jingoistic Trump supporter’s wet dream, this tale is almost impressively racist. It’s as if someone watched a season of Breaking Bad and learned all the wrong reasons. It feels like a dusty relic from an era of overt bigotry we’ve tried to leave buried in the past.

A failure on virtually every level, Peppermint is a slapdash, half-hearted affront to anyone unfortunate enough to get caught in its crosshairs. Early on, our protagonist preaches the gospel of nonviolence to her daughter, and then immediately – and quite ferociously – abandons her bumper sticker platitude so she can animalistically torture those who scorned her. That’s the brand of jarring short-sightedness we’re dealing with here. A mishmash of misplaced scruples and corny, flash burst TV editing, it’s a wonder that Peppermint was ever given a theatrical release. The only silver lining is that it is sure to spark a clever How Did This Get Made? episode sometime in the near future. This abhorrent blunder is almost terrible enough to justify recommending. Almost.

Peppermint (2018)  Directed by Pierre Morel. Written By Chad St. John. Starring Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Method Man, Richard Cabral, Annie Ilonzeh, Pell James, Chris Johnson, Kyla Drew, Cailey Fleming, Jeff Hephner, Michael Reventar.

1 out of 10

14 responses to “Peppermint

  1. The stupid movie critics are all paid shills who work for gender-biased pedophiles. They are biased against women in vigilante roles traditionally played by men (read: Arnold, Sylvester, Bruce, Denzel, Keanu, etc.). Jennifer Garner kicks ass and takes no prisoners in Peppermint. This film may be over the top for blood and guts action entertainment value, as all of the MALE lead films of this genre always are, but it’s also art imitating life in many respects. I agree with the producers…Gang cartels deserve extermination, and this film is the wet dream of every woman who has been double victimized by the so-called “Justice” system.

    1. Wow. As a women you need to sit down and take your god damn pills. The film is bad. You may enjoy the film and others did not.
      No need to call out critics as something vile. We all have our opinions.

      So sit down Sally Insanity, and drink your OJ.

      1. “As a women” means you are multiple, which means you are the one who should be on pills. Good news, I hear your facility is getting brand new straight jackets. Someone will give you your OJ shortly.

  2. I liked the film. I went to be entertained and was. These type of movies are not new to any of us, but they give us the vigilante story line we like. Jennifer did a great job, I had moments when I even laughed at some of the comedic moments. I give it a 7 out of 10.

  3. I am in no way a Jennifer Garner fan. I just wanted to go to the movie theaters and this was the only one that seemed a little interesting. I am happy to say that I enjoyed this movie very, very much. I’d watch it again. And I’m pretty sure I’d enjoy it just the same. It was a wonderful surprise. I may have to hang up any Hang-Ups I had about Jennifer Garner. This movie made me a fan of hers.

  4. At the start of the movie one of the detectives says the bad guy Diego Garcia has a nickname and he says it in spanish. Can anyone translate that into english for me please?

    1. I don’t speak Spanish, but he says something like “El Guillotine” or something, which makes sense since we saw him chop someones head off earlier.

      Also, I thought it was a fun movie in the vein of John Wick or Law Abiding Citizen.

      ** SPOILERS **
      People seem to forget that the entire justice system that fails her is white.
      The lawyer that bribes her, the cop that is dirty, the judge who ignores her.

  5. I watched Alias and thought very hightly of the series and Jennifer Garner. She’s a very, very talented actress…honestly…movies are an escape. ANYONE who goes to a flick for a touch of surrealism has missed point. I haven’t even seen it yet and I’m buying because as an actress…she’s earned respect. Whatever role she chooses…she’ll kill it! (lil pun there) Do her a favor guys….there’s almost nothing as hard on a respected actor than a critic who didn’t get thier gratf to plug it. A angery review in this case is likely the scenario…Happy Holidays all!

  6. The movie is racist? My mistake, I thought Cartels were often of Latinx descent. Apparently there are no horrible Latinx criminals in the world. Thanks for “woking” me movie critic!

  7. More postmodernist poop from a critic that just doesn’t get that people like being entertained and want some escapism for 90 minutes. Not all of us see screenings for free and get paid to gripe about what others have made rather than actually create something new ourselves. We’re talking about an industry whose primary purpose is to entertain, not teach, not indoctrinate, not enlighten, but entertain. As a critic, your job is to tell people if the film will do that for the average, unjaded, non-postmodernist putz in the crowd. You are not an artist or a creative writer. Ostensibly, you are there to report on the work of those who actually are creative.

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