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Randy’s Review — ‘Peppermint’
Garner shows all vigilantes are created equal
The sweet and lovable Capital One pitch-woman Jennifer Garner is anything but in the revenge tale “Peppermint.”
What’s in your wallet? How about about a cachet of weapons and survival technique.
Riley North turns from hard-working banker and multitasking mother and wife who transforms into a knife-wielding, gun-toting, hand-to-hand combat expert seeking justice against those responsible for her family’s death.
North, who is forced to miss her daughter’s birthday party when her jerk boss forces her to work late, returns home to learn that none of Carly’s (Cailey Fleming) friends attended her party. When she learns one of her daughter’s rich classmate’s mother deliberately scheduled a sleepover the same night and didn’t invite Carly, North convinces her husband Chris (Chris Johnson) a struggling car shop owner, to spend their limited resources for a night on the town with their girl.
Unbeknownst to North, her husband had been invited by a low-life friend to help him rip off a local drug dealer. The husband refuses, but the friend gives him up as an accomplice and gang hitmen are sent to deliver a message. While North is grabbing ice cream for Carly and Chris, the gunmen wheel by the Christmas carnival and open fire, killing them both and injuring a nearby North.
When she wakes up in the hospital, her husband and daughter are dead. Detectives Beltran (John Ortiz) and Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.) are able to get her to identify the suspects, working for Diego Garcia’s (Juan Pablo Garcia) drug cartel. She returns home with plans to seek legal justice against those responsible but is met with bribes to change her story. In court, thanks to a slimy lawyer and corrupt judge, the perps are allowed to walk, grinning all the way. When North freaks out, she is taken into custody and sent for mental evaluation. She escapes and drops out of site.
Five years later, she returns a different person, bent on systematically seeking out the killers as well as those who let them off, issued the order and anyone else who preys on innocents.
She’s a bad, bad woman on a mission to right wrongs, and her reappearance and rising death toll become a top priority for both Beltran and Carmichael as they attempt to put an end to her reign of terror.
It’s pretty standard fare as vigilante tales go with a blend of story lines from “The Punisher” and “Death Wish” with a female twist. She transforms dramatically from pacifist to blood-thirsty fighting machine nicely but the movie is way too predictable. She gets the bad guys — bloodied, bruised and beaten for her efforts — and even settles the score with the snobby woman who messed up her daughter’s birthday, but the most wanted murderer also generates public support as details of her story become available.
Garner is solid in a traditional action piece, and credit her for the training she put herself through, but the film as a whole offers very little new to a long line of squaring-the-deal action flicks.
On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, “Peppermint” runs out of fresh kernels at 2 1/2 tubs. Jennifer Garner is good in physical action roles and is both sympathetic and inspirational as a mother and wife seeking justice by any means necessary. But there is nothing new here. It’s been done before. She makes a good vigilante but there are only so many directions you can take a story like this. Running time: 1 hour, 42 minutes. MPAA rating: R. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theatres in Spencer.