Revenge can make people do some crazy things, especially when they have nothing left to lose. Such is the case in the action thriller, Peppermint, directed by Pierre Morel. Riley North (Jennifer Gardner) is a regular suburban wife and mother until her family is brutally murdered before her eyes. Five years later she returns to the scene of the crime seeking out those who are responsible for destroying her family. This is a story that we are all familiar with; there have been countless films that share this central theme. It’s a theme that automatically grabs your attention and most of the time it is a lot of fun to watch, however in Peppermint there isn’t much to hold onto.
Unfortunately, this film has a pretty poor screenplay. As far as the story itself, nothing new is brought to the table. It also didn’t help that it was predictable and dragged until the last half hour. The premise is simple and familiar enough that you don’t need a whole lot in the way of explanation but what you do need is originality and proper character development. Written by Chad St. John, the screenplay left me with multiple questions that were never fully answered. The only things I know about Riley North is that she used to work at a bank and that her family was murdered, I can’t tell you anything else. That’s a problem when I just watched a movie for two hours where she is the main focus. Also what do I know about the leader of the cartel, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba), other than he is the obvious bad guy? I believe that context matters when you’re trying to engage your audience and when it’s not there it leads to characters that are uninteresting, flat and weak. It’s unfortunate that there were not stronger characters because one of the reasons I was interested in this was because of John Gallagher Jr. He’s a fantastic actor and I’m a fan of his previous work so naturally I was looking forward to his performance. His role as Detective Carmichael was confusing and the most disappointing. I didn’t understand his purpose and his performance was unfortunate.
Halfway through the movie I found myself trying to figure out if I had missed something. As the film opens Riley is the polar opposite of the Riley we witness for the second half. This character in the beginning looked as if the thought of holding a gun might be too intense of an experience for her, in the second half she is a trained assassin hunting down drug lords. What confused me was how did she get there and where did she go for the past five years? A huge part of the story was intentionally left out and was instead only given some brief exposition in a conversation at the police station. It’s apparent that what is the biggest priority is that the audience is able to see the transformation that has taken place within those five years. It’s apparent because these questions were never answered. To Jennifer Gardner’s credit, she looks great as an action star and there were some scenes were she gave a really convincing performance. However it just didn’t work for me. I get what they were trying to do with her character by giving her a complete change from the woman she was in the beginning. It was just too much; it was such a drastic shift that didn’t make sense. It was like watching two different characters and not one that had changed because of a personal tragedy.
Overall, Peppermint isn’t a good film. As I was watching I tried my best to overlook all my questions and see if they were eventfully answered, which they weren’t. I tried to look past the bad characters but that became increasingly difficult the more time passed by. All of this made for an unsatisfying action movie.
1 ½ out of 5 stars
Director: Pierre Morel Writer: Chad St. John Starring: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz & Juan Pablo Raba Release Date: September 7th Rated: R Runtime: 1 hour and 42 minutes Image Credit: Imdb