When done right, revenge films can be extraordinary. One needs to look no further than “Memento,” “Oldboy” and “Kill Bill.” When I discovered that “Taken” director Pierre Morel was doing another action film, I was intrigued because I found his collaborations with Liam Neeson to yield a highly entertaining revenge film. Unfortunately, “Peppermint” settles for nothing less than mediocrity. After watching it, I can honestly say I have not thought much about it since.
Jennifer Garner returns to action films, after almost a decade, with “Peppermint,” in which she stars alongside John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz and Juan Pablo Raba. The plot of the film follows Riley North, played by Garner, who tragically loses her husband and daughter in a shooting at a carnival. After the justice system fails her by determining the three killers are not guilty, Riley decides to take matters into her own hands. Fast forward to five years later, and she starts to go after the people who have wronged her.
By far, the standout of “Peppermint” is Jennifer Garner. From a physical and emotional standpoint, she gives an excellent performance. When viewers see what she goes through, it is easy to sympathize with her. It is clear that Garner is giving it her all. The film makes an attempt to show you that the main character is not emotionally sane. There are a few decisions she makes that make viewers realize that she has lost her mind, which added more depth to the character.
With that being said, the film fails to be on par with Garner’s performance. As stated before, revenge films have been done several times before, but there are the selected few that bring something new to the genre. “Peppermint” is essentially a cliche revenge film that lacks anything new and exciting.
From the characters, story elements, twists and action scenes, it all feels incredibly average. While some of the action scenes are well filmed, they are nothing spectacular. There’s not even one standout action sequence. It all just feels like something the viewers have seen again and done better.
Other than Garner, it was hard for me to care or be invested in any of the characters – especially with villains who are very stereotypical. While the performances aren’t necessarily bad, the only person that is notably trying their best is Garner. The pacing is a little off as well, especially toward the second act. At best, this is a disposable revenge film.
While I did not necessarily hate watching “Peppermint,” I couldn’t help but feel like the filmmakers did not feel motivated to utilize the potential it had. Furthermore, it also felt kind of rushed. After a flashback, it’s hard to tell it was five years later because everything happens very quickly. However, if one is still interested in seeing “Peppermint,” my best recommendation would be to wait for it to premiere on HBO.
There are plenty of revenge films that have been made. If one wants to see a better revenge film, believe me it’s out there somewhere.