‘Peppermint’ an uninspired vigilante revenge movie
Very early in the new action-thriller film “Peppermint,” a mom explains to her daughter that you can’t just go around punching the lights out of every jerk you run across because if you did, you’d be as bad as they are.
But after her husband and her daughter are gunned down right in front of her, she changes her tune. She may not become quite as bad as the murderous thugs she takes on, but what she does become makes for a very bad movie. “Peppermint” is as pointless a film as you’re apt to see this year.
This is an uninspired vigilante revenge movie, with cartoonish bad guys, and an even more ridiculously caricatured court system. When the heavily tattooed Hispanic murderers of her family are let go because the prosecutors and the judge are paid off by a drug cartel, mom Riley North, played to the hilt by Jennifer Garner, goes ballistic … eventually.
North goes off the grid for five years, and when she emerges, she’s – somehow – a veritable killing machine. She starts out systematically hunting down and killing, one by one, her family’s killers. Their three bodies are found, in quite spectacular fashion, hanging by their ankles on the ferris wheel near where her family was mowed down.
Next, she goes after the judge that let the murderers go. She breaks into his home, nails his hands to his desk, tapes his mouth shut, and straps a bomb to his chest, all before giving him a little lecture.
“Watching someone take everything from you. All you have. All you’re ever going to have. … Hurts, doesn’t it? Knowing that it’s all over and there’s nothing you can do about it. You didn’t serve justice, your honor.”
She eventually detonates the bomb and blows him and his house to smithereens.
At this point, she’s four for four but she’s just warming up. She now decides to go after the drug cartel and sooner rather than later the bodies pile up quite impressively.
She not only manages to elude the heavily armed drug gangs and even the Korean mob, she also escapes the clutches of the police and the FBI who are hot on her trail, too. Ridiculous? Of course. But that’s not the film’s biggest problem. Lots of successful movies are ridiculous. Take Tom Cruise’s “Mission Impossible” series, for instance.
“Peppermint”‘s real problem is that the non-stop violence is so relentless and unimaginative. Many violent films can be cinematically exciting – see Tarantino, Peckinpah, etc. – but not this one. “Peppermint”‘s only real novelty is having a woman be the vigilante, instead of Liam Neeson. (Yes, the director also did “Taken.”) But that novelty wears off quickly. Add in laughably cliched dialogue and “Peppermint” becomes little more than a dispiriting endurance contest. And that’s no reason to go to the movies.