If you’re a big fan of badass female heroines, Peppermint will be right up your alley. After all, it stars Jennifer Garner, who jumpstarted strong female characters on television during her five season run on Alias as Sydney Bristowe. Peppermint serves up girl power by the bushel so make sure to keep up.
Synopsis: Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is a typical working mom who tries to make ends meet with her husband Chris and her daughter Carly. Because of their financial troubles, Chris gets embroiled in an attempt to rob a big time drug cartel. Although he doesn’t push through with it, drug boss Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) catches wind of it and orders him eliminated. On Carly’s birthday, Riley’s family is mercilessly gunned down at the town carnival. Because of the cartel’s influence, Riley fails to get justice for the death of her husband and child so she takes justice into her own hands.
I was frankly surprised that Peppermint was rated so low by critics. I get that they were expecting a more complicated plot but the trailer pretty much laid it out plain and simple. It was a revenge story and that was the crux of it. Personally, I was quite satisfied with the way this film was executed. The action scenes were on point and Riley’s character was developed very well, and that’s all that really mattered. From start to finish, audiences develop a strong affinity for the character and Jennifer Garner needs to be credited for this.
On the action front, she will remind you that even though over a decade has passed since her hit action series Alias, she still has the skills and the edge to carry out complicated fight choreography and stunts. Despite having three kids, she maintains her tone physique which enables her to execute each scene perfectly. She also exercises her acting chops to pull off the dramatic aspects of her role very well. When she helplessly tries to get the court to convict her family’s murderers, you lose your heart to her. When she exacts her revenge in brutal fashion, you cheer her on.
But what I really like about the Riley North character is that she is very smart and resourceful. She thinks on her feet and deals with any situation as it happens. Her plans don’t always pan out 100 percent but even though she’s outnumbered and outgunned, she finds a way to even the score. She picks up ammo from fallen enemies. She reloads, she bleeds, she gets beaten up and that is why she becomes even more relateable to the viewers. She is portrayed as a very human character who feels pain and sorrow just as much as she thirsts for vengeance.
Peppermint also does a good job faking out the audience on who the real villain is. While it was not super shocking, at least the movie attempted to think out of the box. One thing I wish they could have improved on was Riley’s backstory because it seemed like they wanted audiences to believe that Riley acquired all of her fighting and espionage skills within the space fo five years but from a mere soccer mom to femme fatale in half a decade seems a little farfetched without a more complicated background.
I also caught the possibility of a sequel if the film does well as it was established earlier on that there was a higher level to the drug cartel. It would be interesting to see whether Peppermint will go the way of Taken and pick up from their version of Marco from Tropoia.
All in all, Peppermint was indeed a simple story that lacked complicated subplots. However, the film’s main strength was its badass central character who carried the entire film with uncompromising efficiency. Simple plot + badass execution, after all makes for a strong action flick that goes perfectly well with popcorn and soda. And I for one, loved it.