Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Film Review #109

It has a great poster/cover at least...
Peppermint (2018)
Director: Pierre Morel Starring: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Juan Pablo Raba, Tyson Ritter, Jeff Hephner

Certificate: 15 Running Time: 102 Minutes

Tagline: "The system failed. She won't."

Meet Riley North. She's a middle-aged banker from Los Angeles where she lives with husband Chris (Hephner) and 10-year old daughter Carly. They aren't doing terribly well financially, but they're getting by. For their daughter's birthday they take her to a local carnival. In the midst of this family evening out, however, a drive-by shooting results in the tragic death of Chris and Carly. The injured Riley is able to identify the shooters but they escape justice due to their connections and the corrupt officials handling the trial. Incredulous, devastated, enraged, she is taken away, then disappears. When she returns five years later, however, certain members of the criminal underworld and law-enforcement community formerly involved with her case begin meeting brutal ends. Is isn't too long before the rozzers start remembering stuff and recognise a pattern, but can they do anything about it? Or given the type of people getting killed, will they do anything about it?

They were all so happy...
This might all sound a little familiar to some, and indeed, the basic premise is lifted straight from The Punisher, just with the male/female roles swapped. That was the first thing that occurred to me anyway, but that's not necessarily a bad thing - a good revenge flick can be immensely satisfying after all. In Riley's case, when she returns after a five year absense, it's very clear she's far from the woman we met previously. She's driven, determined, unrelenting, and has clearly been hard at work getting into the kind of shape where she could actually do something about the injustice she suffered. It's a little annoying that we never get to see how she did that - we don't even get a brief training montage or anything - but her brutal and targetted killings quickly arouse attention on both sides of the law.

These hoodlums are about to get a shock...
In most regards, Peppermint (so named, I can only assume, for the flavour of ice cream Carly buys immediately prior to being blasted by the gangsta's gats) is a pretty run-of-the-mill revenge thriller. There aren't really any surprises in store for viewers, nothing is done amazingly well, and no aspect of the film is remotely original or particularly creative. Many more demanding/snobby film fans will therefore most likely shake their head in silent derision when watching it, but somehow it remains rather compelling, at least for viewers of a certain mindset. This could be down to Garner's committed performance which is easily the most outstanding thing about the film. It's hard to imagine the distraught, hysterical mess we see near the beginning becoming the ruthless, unrelenting, bad-ass vigilante we meet five years/minutes later, but she convinces as both.

The fuzz are on the scene as Riley strikes again...
Raba does his job well enough as chief bad guy too, and Gallagher Jr. and Ortiz are both decent as the cops in charge of the hunt for Riley, but it's unquestionably Garner's show. Without her leading things, this may well have been the plop-fest that some think it is anyway. For me, it's pretty well done despite the apparent lack of ambition of director Morel (Taken, From Paris With Love) - the action scenes are great and it's still satisfying. Films like this are great for certain moods and I'll probably end up watching it again when I'm feeling put upon. On days like that, revenge thrillers do their job well, and they now include Peppermint for me. I suspect it was meant to be the start of a new franchise but it hasn't made much money so I doubt we'll see any more Fighty Adventures of Riley. I wouldn't say no to another swing by her just and noble (and violent) patch though.

RKS Score: 7/10


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