They say flattery is the highest form of complement, and in movie terms flattery comes in the form of copy-cat films based on a formula that has previously hit a target with audiences. The latest film to get that treatment seems to be John Wick, which in some ways was a copy of Taken, which itself was a copy of Die Hard, which was a- well you get the picture. It’s become less a conventional action genre and more of an ‘over 40’ action hero genre, even though Bruce Willis was 33 in the first Die Hard, but that’s besides the point. With last year’s Atomic Blonde and now Peppermint, women kicking ass and taking names is in. In both cases, casting was right on, but with Blonde it felt like Theron wasn’t able to let loose, so the hope was that Jennifer Garner was going to be free to kick some ass, just like she did in her Alias days.
Riley North (Garner) should be up for the mother of the year award for the things she does for her daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming). It’s her birthday and Riley is doing everything she can to make it perfect, but there are some speed bumps along the way, so being the mom she is, she comes up with a plan to make it better and they all go to the Christmas Carnival for a night of fun and ice cream. Little did Riley know that her husband got involved with a not-so-pleasant criminal element. Because of that Riley and her family are targeted and she is the only one who survives the attack. Fast forward five years and someone is causing trouble for a drug kingpin, the same one who put a hit on Riley’s family. That someone is Riley herself and she is putting the hurt on his business as well as his men. All of it shapes up for a grand finale with Riley seeking to get the justice she deserves.
I have to say I was kind of excited to see Jennifer Garner go all Alias again and I will say that it was kind of fun for the moments we were given. I would also like to believe she used her romantic comedy posters for target practice to prepare for this role. However as tough and gritty Garner is in the film, it’s the story and the choice of bad guy that hurts the rest of it. Juan Pablo Raba who plays Diego Garcia, the chief bad guy feels like he was pulled straight out of a nineties Steven Seagal movie. Everything about him feels wrong, and if one thing is vital in a revenge film is who you are taking revenge on. Raba just doesn’t come across as an equal to Garner’s character. Once you get pass the generic bad guy you still have a predictable story written by Chad St. John, where everything you think will happen actually does, there are no surprises or interesting twists, just the folder we’ve been fed for decades. On top of the predictable story, director Pierre Morel (Taken) tries his best to annoy you in the first half of the film with way, way, way too many flashbacks to fill in points in the story. What we are left with is thoughts of what could have been. Now there is nothing saying these all have to be fantastic, crazy action thrillers, but when you devote your time to what seems on the surface at least a engaging action flick, I would be happy with just being entertained. But Peppermint gives us very little of that.