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.