REVIEW: ‘Peppermint’ brings very little to the table and is ultimately forgettable

After many years in other genres, Jennifer Garner has returned to the world of action films. However, her latest picture isn’t the best she’s starred in.

In “Peppermint,” Garner plays Riley, who lives in a lower-middle class household with her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming). Her day-to-day life is shattered, though, when a gang murders Chris and Carly in a drive-by shooting.

While Riley is able to identify those who did it, the corrupt law system provides no justice. As a result Riley decides to take the law into her hands and launch a mission of revenge.

Revenge movies are nothing new to cinema, and the concept usually leads to a fairly pedestrian story. What sets apart films in the genre is what else can be brought to the table. In “Kill Bill” and “The Crow,” it was the heavy style, in “Man on Fire,” it was the charm and charisma of Denzel Washington, and in “Four Brothers,” it was the overall attitude and chemistry of the four lead characters.

“Peppermint,” though, has few aspects that raise it above any other run-of-the-mill action/revenge flick. Even the story-telling was a bit off.

After her family is killed, there’s an immediate time skip of five years and from there, her revenge mission starts. So, unfortunately, we as the audience miss out on all of her training and planning for revenge. Additionally, the revenge against the three men actually responsible for the killings is done all off screen. The third act also pushes an already unbelievable story into even more absurdity.

Garner, meanwhile, is alright here. During some of the action-related sequences, she does portray the fierce, revenge-filled personality well. Yet for most of the runtime it feels like she doesn’t have that much to work with. The character is simply lacking in real personality and attitude, and it makes the experience of watching her dull.

The supporting characters don’t help much, either. There is a pair of detectives who seem like they belong more in a B-grade cop TV show and an FBI agent that doesn’t add all that much to the whole product. The film’s final villain is also completely generic.

“Peppermint” is also lacking in any kind of style. The colors, lighting and cinematography here feels so lackluster, with very little identity. The action also had its fair share of issues, with the shot changing almost every time a character gets hit by a bullet. I’m not asking for Tarantino levels here, but if the movie wants to be a brutal film, then show that brutality on screen.

In both style and substance, the film doesn’t offer much. It’s not necessarily the worst movie made this year. For example, it was a better action film experience than the recent “Mile 22.” While not an F, though, it’s just so dry that it comes close with basically a D-. 2.0 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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