Filming a screenplay that completely lacks a second act might be considered a bold act of avant-garde multiplex filmmaking, if the result didn’t eliminate everything about the story that might be remotely interesting. Jennifer Garner plays Riley North, a wife and mother in suburban Southern California whose husband and daughter are murdered by members of a Mexican gang; five years after the incident, she appears as a badass avenging angel bent on justice. How did mild-mannered Riley become a killing machine? Your guess is as good as mine, as director Pierre Morel (Taken), working from a script by Chad St. John, jumps directly into the killings without providing any framework for Riley’s psychological and physical transformation. All that’s left is pure exploitation thriller, as a steely, fully-committed Garner provides visceral satisfaction as she racks up her body count, and cops utter goofy hard-boiled lines like “he wound up on the wrong side of the grass.” Movies like this are supposed to be cathartic, as audience surrogates do the things a broken system can’t do, but Peppermint erases the reality that the decision to turn into The Punisher comes at a cost.
Director: Pierre Morel
Producer: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Eric Reid, Robert Simonds, Adam Fogelson, David Kern, James McQuaide, Donald Tang, Renee Tab, Christopher Tuffin, Wang Zhongjun, Wang Zhonglei and Felice Bee
Cast: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz, Juan Raba, Annie Ilonzeh, Jeff Hephner, Cailey Fleming, Eddie Shin, Cliff "Method Man" Smith, Tyson Ritter, Ian Casselberry, Richard Cabral, Johnny Ortiz, Michael Reventar, Kyla-Drew Simmons, Gustavo Quiroz, Pell James, John Boyd, Michael Mosley, Jeff Harlan and Chris Johnson