Film Review: Peppermint (dir by Pierre Morel)

2018’s Peppermint is a film about a former banker named Riley North who kills a lot of people but it’s okay because she’s played by Jennifer Garner and has really pretty hair.

It’s also kinda justified because, five years earlier, Riley’s family was murdered and Riley didn’t get justice.  In fact, the perpetrators were acquitted in a trial that was so obviously fixed that I was surprised that no one started shouting “shenanigans.”  Along with hunting down the gang members who murdered her husband and daughter, Riley also murders the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the judge.  I imagine she did this because Riley knows that if she didn’t kill at least one old white guy, the entire movie would just be the cringey spectacle of a white woman hunting down a group of Hispanic men.  Riley may not know how to get justice through conventional means but she’s still savvy enough to know that you’ve got to throw a few white dudes into your killing spree.  (Otherwise, people might notice that, with the exception of one character, every Latino in the film is portrayed as being a drug-dealing killer.)

We’d probably have more sympathy for Riley if we were not forced to sit through flashbacks designed to show how happy her family was.  Seriously, the Norths were so obnoxiously perfect that you kinda feel like they were tempting fate by just existing in a movie.  No one ever gets away with being that wonderful.  If you want to survive a movie like this, it helps to be dysfunctional.

Anyway, as you watch the film, you might find yourself wondering how Riley learned how to be such an efficient killing machine.  I know that I did  It turns out that, after losing faith in the system, Riley spent five years wandering the world, volunteering with Catholic Relief Services, and trying to find grace through suffering.  No, just kidding!  Actually, she robbed the bank where she worked and then she fled to Singapore where she became an MMA fighter.  (Don’t look at me like that, I’m not the one who wrote this damn movie.)  Now, she’s returned to the United States and she’s blowing shit up.

Fortunately, it turns out that the people who killed Riley’s family are no longer as clever as they were in the past.  How else can you explain their inability to not get blown up or shot in the head?  Peppermint is the type of film that asks you to believe that a group of criminals are so powerful that they can bride a state judge but they’re also so incompetent that a someone in their 40s can pick them off, one-by-one.  This is one of those films where people are only smart when the film’s plot requires them to be.  Otherwise, everyone in Peppermint is dumb as a sack of rocks.

Peppermint attempts to be a female version of Death Wish but it’s not as much fun.  The Death Wish remake may have gotten slaughtered by the critics but it’s still kind of enjoyable to watch because Eli Roth doesn’t hold back from emphasizing how ludicrous the film is.  Peppermint‘s director, Pierre Morel, takes the material a bit too seriously.  That approach may have worked when Morel directed Taken but, in the years since Liam Neeson murdered half of Paris to rescue his daughter, we’ve seen so many Taken rip-offs that the only way to approach the material is in the spirit of self-parody.  If you’re going to have a banker go to Singapore and become a cage fighter so that she can then return to America and blow up a retired criminal court judge, you have to have a sense of humor about it.

I do have to say, though, that I disagree with those critics who claimed Peppermint was one of the worst films of 2018.  It’s not terrible as much as its just kind of forgettable.

Here Are The 2018 Houston Film Critics Society Nominations!

Finally, the only state that matters is starting to make it’s voice heard in this year’s Oscar race!

On Sunday, the Houston Film Critics Society announced their nominations for the best of 2018.  Houston really, really liked both The Favourite and If Beale Street Could Talk.  The winners will be announced on January 3rd.

Here are the nominees!

Best Picture
A Star is Born
Black Panther
Eighth Grade
If Beale Street Could Talk
The Favourite
First Reformed
Green Book

Best Director
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favourite
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Actor
Christian Bale, Vice
Bradley Cooper, A Star is Born
Ethan Hawke, First Reformed
Rami Malek, Bohemian Rhapsody
Viggo Mortensen, Green Book

Best Actress
Glenn Close, The Wife
Toni Collette, Hereditary
Olivia Colman, The Favourite
Lady Gaga, A Star is Born
Melissa McCarthy, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Best Supporting Actor
Mahershala Ali, Green Book
Timothee Chalamet, Beautiful Boy
Adam Driver, BlacKkKlansman
Richard E. Grant, Can You Ever Forgive Me?
Michael B. Jordan, Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, Vice
Claire Foy, First Man
Regina King, If Beale Street Could Talk
Emma Stone, The Favourite
Rachel Weisz, The Favourite

Best Screenplay
Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade
Deborah Davis & Tony McNamara, The Favourite
Paul Schrader, First Reformed
Barry Jenkins, If Beale Street Could Talk
Adam McKay, Vice

Best Cinematography
Rachel Morrison, Black Panther
Linus Sandgren, First Man
Robbie Ryan, The Favourite
James Laxton, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alfonso Cuaron, Roma

Best Animated Film
Incredibles 2
Isle of Dogs
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Best Original Score
Ludwig Göransson, Black Panther
Justin Hurwitz, First Man
Nicholas Britell, If Beale Street Could Talk
Alexandre Desplat, Isle of Dogs
Thom Yorke, Suspiria

Best Original Song
“All the Stars,” Black Panther
“Ashes,” Deadpool 2
“Hearts Beat Loud,” Hearts Beat Loud
“Revelation,” Boy Erased
“Shallow,” A Star is Born

Best Foreign Language Film
Cold War

Best Documentary Feature
Free Solo
Minding the Gap
Three Identical Strangers
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Texas Independent Film Award
An American in Texas
The Standoff at Sparrow Creek
Support the Girls

Visual Effects
Black Panther
First Man
Mission: Impossible – Fallout

Best Poster
BlacKkKlansman (two)
Suspiria (two)

Best Worst Film of the Year
The 15:17 to Paris
The Happytime Murders
Life Itself