Entertainment » Movies


by Kevin Taft
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Friday Sep 7, 2018

Remember those trashy action movies on Cinemax? The ones from the '80s and '90s you'd find on late night cable starring someone like Dolph Lundgren or Jean-Claude Van Damme? You know, the ones that had clichéd villains, dreadful dialogue, and brutal fight scenes that were a queasy way to spend a night in while you cleaned out your kitchen drawers or balanced your checkbook?

Well they are back with "Peppermint," Jennifer Garner's return to leading lady action hero status.

And it's terrible.

While Garner is believable and potent in everything she does, she is surrounded by everything rotten, so much so you actually wonder why she signed on board to begin with. Having been relegated to supporting roles as loving mothers dealing with various child issues ("Miracles from Heaven," "Love Simon," and "The Odd Life of Timothy Green"), she's back to the more action-oriented material that made her a star in "Alias."

Here she plays Riley North, a wife and mother struggling to make ends meet. When her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and young daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming) are killed by a trio of drug dealers bent on revenge, Riley takes matters into her own hands to not only get justice for her family, but take down the people that engendered the murder in the first place.

This is a well-worn tale most recently done a thousand times better in "John Wick." Here, the directing by Pierre Morel ("Taken") is a frenetic mess and the dialogue is abominably clichéd - so much so it feels like someone just typed a concept into a computer and it wrote itself. Most of the bad-guy dialogues you can quote seconds before the actors onscreen say the line.

Other problems abound: the villain here is a Mexican drug czar (Diego Garcia) who hisses his lines hoping to sound like a bad-ass, if only you could hear him over the giggles of the audience. All of his henchmen are also Mexican, and when you have a white family killed by a bunch of Mexicans, well, it just feels icky in this day and age. (Again, what was Garner thinking?) But also, what were the writer's thinking? Could they not have come up with a better villain here? It's the laziest of the lazy.

Then there's the problem of Riley's newfound technical skills with fighting, firearms, and sneaking around. She's been off the grid for five years, yet a super-quick internet search shows her in an illegal boxing match in another country. So much for the low profile. Furthermore, who trained her? Where did she get her skills? This is all way more interesting than what was put onscreen. But most of the interesting stuff is left out of the script, anyway.

When the three men who killed her family walk free, five years later she gets her revenge, but we only see one of those moments in the opening scene of the film. The next time we see the men they are hanging dead and upside down from a Ferris wheel. The audience is never given the release of seeing her take them out.

And take out people she does. In all manner of blowing their heads off, snapping arms and legs, you name it, she does it. And it's gross. And ugly. And unnecessary. (I repeat: Why, Jennifer, why?)

There's also a nod to the '80s cult classic "The Legend of Billie Jean," which had all of American rooting for a woman seeking her own revenge. Now, in the digital age, when the country starts backing what Riley is doing, it points to a hive mentality that could have been an interesting aspect to the plot. Riley even calls for "everyone" to come down to the scene of an ongoing crime and "bring their cameras with them," yet this never happens. We never get to see what Riley's actions, however illegal and/or justified, would play out in the age of Social Media.

There are so many missed opportunities here, all of them replaced with endless shoot-outs and actors growling abysmal dialogue. There is nothing you haven't seen here before, and seen done better. It's a shame for Garner who is a spectacular actress and action heroine. This film is far beneath her talents and taints the real-life image she's tried to portray. It just didn't feel like her and as a result, it wasn't always easy to root for her.

This "Peppermint" is like the candy cane you find under the couch about six months after Christmas has ended: Easily disposable.


Riley North awakens from a coma after surviving a brutal attack that killed her husband and daughter. When the system shields the murderers from justice, Riley sets out to transform herself from citizen to urban guerrilla. Channeling frustration into motivation, the young widow spends years in hiding -- honing her mind, body and spirit to become an unstoppable force. Eluding the underworld, the police and the FBI, Riley embarks on a deadly quest to deliver her own personal brand of punishment.


Runtime :: 102 mins
Release Date :: Sep 07, 2018
Language :: Silent
Country :: United States


Riley North :: Jennifer Garner
Detective Stan Carmichael :: John Gallagher
Detective Moises Beltran :: John Ortiz
Diego Garcia :: Juan Raba
FBI Agent Lisa Inman :: Annie Ilonzeh
Chris North :: Jeff Hephner
Caley North :: Cailey Fleming
FBI Agent Li :: Eddie Shin
Narcotics Detective Barker :: Cliff ``Method Man' Smith
Homeless Sam :: Tyson Ritter
Cortez :: Ian Casselberry
Salazar :: Richard Cabral
Torres :: Johnny Ortiz
Ortega :: Michael Reventar
Maria :: Kyla-Drew Simmons
Jose :: Gustavo Quiroz
Peg :: Pell James
Marvin :: John Boyd
Henderson :: Michael Mosley
Judge Stevens :: Jeff Harlan
Mickey :: Chris Johnson


Director :: Pierre Morel
Screenwriter :: Chad St. John
Producer :: Tom Rosenberg
Producer :: Gary Lucchesi
Producer :: Richard Wright
Producer :: Eric Reid
Executive Producer :: Robert Simonds
Executive Producer :: Adam Fogelson
Executive Producer :: David Kern
Executive Producer :: James McQuaide
Executive Producer :: Donald Tang
Executive Producer :: Renee Tab
Executive Producer :: Christopher Tuffin
Executive Producer :: Wang Zhongjun
Executive Producer :: Wang Zhonglei
Executive Producer :: Felice Bee
Cinematographer :: David Lanzenberg
Film Editor :: Frédéric Thoraval
Original Music :: Simon Franglen
Production Design :: Ramsey Avery
Art Director :: Chris Dileo
Set Decoration :: Lori Mazuer
Costume Designer :: Lindsay McKay
Casting :: Deanna Brigidi

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook