Movie Reviews

Published on September 6th, 2018 | by Josh Aja

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Peppermint

Tragedy strikes Riley North (Jennifer Garner) when her husband and young daughter are gunned down in a drive-by shooting. The shooters were all part of a local gang ran by Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba). Garcia thought Riley’s husband, Chris (Jeff Hephner), was part of a plot to steal money from him. Chris had actually turned down the job but it was too late and Garcia ordered his henchmen to make a statement out of killing Chris. Riley despite being shot in the heard and unconscious she was still able to identify the murders of her husband and her daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming). Thinking she would get justice she testified at a preliminary hearing. But to her surprise the defense lawyer said due to being her injuries that she didn’t really know what she saw. Shockingly the prosecutor did nothing to help her and the judge declared there was not enough evidence to proceed. Feeling cheated and everyone was working against her Riley disappears. On the five year anniversary of the murder of her family the three men responsible are found hanging from a Ferris wheel. When Detective Beltran (John Ortiz) and Detective Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.) show up to the crime scene the immediately wonder could Riley North be back and exacting vengeance.

This vigilante action film is pretty much what you think it will be. There is blood and a lot of action. The acting is okay but not really the focal point of the film. But one thing that is not in doubt is the ending, don’t worry I won’t spoil it I don’t need to. With the somewhat recent success of films like Taken, John Wick and The Equalizer, and their sequels, this genre is not lacking in content. For me this dilutes the quality and original story telling of this type of film. The director, Pierre Morel (Taken, The Gunman), seems at home in this film type and does a decent job here. Jennifer Garner comes off as a bad ass and I enjoyed her in this film. The rest of the cast is good but pretty stereotypical of the genre also. This is not a bad movie just one I feel I have seen before. I will say I enjoyed all three of the movies I mentioned above and that should speak well to this movie. I just wanted a little more. It is also worth mentioning that in many of the scenes where Garner was exacting her revenge the audience was prone to laugh as a bad guy was getting a bullet to the head or a file cabinet dropped on their head. That makes it hard to take the movie too seriously.
If you are a vigilante movie fan this is definitely one to check out. The action is good and there is definitely a good amount of it. A little over the top with the blood for me but not too bad. It is nice to see Garner back in the action world and I hope this leads to more from her. I would say save your theater money for another movie and stream this one when it hits your favorite service.

2 out of 5

 

Second review by Angele Colageo

Peppermint

Angele Colageo

The last few years have seen the uptick of movies that highlight the woman warrior-action hero. Peppermint could have been that.

The movie begins with a car rocking and it looks like it is from a couple making out in the car. It is a couple, but it is a woman beating up what looks like a heavily tattooed gang member. They you would ask, why would this woman be smacking and knifing this man? We then are shown a flashback that explains. Flashbacks are a difficult storytelling method to apply, especially in movies. Going back and forth between past and present needs to be very carefully presented.

Riley North (Jennifer Garner) is the suburban Mom married to the mechanic who owns his own shop. Things have been tough for them financially. They do what they can to make ends meet. Her husband Chris North (Jeff Hephner) was offered a “job” by a friend to steal from a drug lord. Thus the premise. Predictable, no? The trailer, pretty much is the dead giveaway for the storyline.

It’s Christmas time and their daughter’s birthday. There is the best birthday party planned, but Riley’s PTA nemesis plans a party on the same day so no one shows up at their birthday party. In order to give their little girl a great birthday, they take her to the Christmas Fair, go on rides, take photos in the booth. The night ends with ice cream, topped by Riley and her family getting gunned down. Being the only survivor, she tells the detective, Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher III) that she is able to identify the men that killed her family.

When as the court date arrives, the lawyer for the defense stops by and try to bribe her. He then uses the information to go against her, and the judge dismissed the case. She sees the disparity and gets very upset at the injustice. While she is taken out of court for her angry response to the judge’s decision to drop the case. She is put in for mental health review. While she’s in the ambulance, she knocks out Detective Carmichael and runs off.

We do find out what Riley North is doing in the present. She has been in Skid Row hiding in plain sight, but we do wonder what she’s been up to before that, where she has been and how she developed mentally, emotionally and physically, cause damn Jenn, those guns are so toned from your training. How did Riley come to them and where because the heaviest things that you lifted prior to the tragedy is your groceries.

The movie really needed a stable time line that can clearly answer question that may distract us. There was no cheesy montage of her gaining her skills. Please, tell us what makes us question how a soccer mom becomes an assassin. People’s families have tragedies, however, not all of them take Linda Hamilton’s biceps or Angela Basset’s arms as inspiration IRL.

Jennifer Garner is the perfect woman to play the role even though she’s been through a lot of rom-coms and charming mom movies, keep in mind (cause it deserves to be stated), she started with physical action roles in Alias. Although Daredevil and Elektra ( I had anticipated so much more from the two movies) we know that Jennifer Garner can kick ass. What this movie lacked seems to be story development. Don’t just give me a random YouTube video. Riley definitely had traveled a lot and picked up a lot of abilities. What was missing is a trail of where she had travel to give us more of an idea and flesh out her development and her thought process. This needs to be placed so the audience is not distracted from the story’s forward movement.

The ending leaves us open for a sequel and I believe that this is the beginning of a dirty Harriet series if the box office is equivocal. There’s a lot of violet gunplay and the editing definitely could have used a lighter hand in fleshing. I do hope that there is not much of the story lying on the editing room floor. Curious to see the director’s cut, but wondering if that would make it better.

We’ve seen previous action movies were “the man” loses their family and loved ones(The Punisher, we know how he got his skills), their dog (John Wick we know how he got his assassin abilities). This is the first time in a long time where we see a woman being an avenging angel This definitely could have been the dirty Harriet four our time. This is an all-out shoot-’em-up action film. There are a couple of intentional funny lines. There’s a lot of angst and anger, but we need more quality in the story and the action. I was hoping for better, because it is high time to have our Avenging Angel for 2018, but Peppermint does not deliver.

Disappointed.

2 out of 5 stars

 

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