Simple review: Sour candy
It is a story that is as old as storytelling itself: REVENGE!! We all know the way the story goes, our hero loses someone they love, the justice system fails them and they take matters into their own hands. Yes, it is a simple plot but when done right a revenge story can satisfy our primal itch to “get back” at those that did us wrong. This week we get to witness a mother, and wife, try to bring harsh justice to those that took her family from her. Will she succeed? Or will she be the first hero in film history to fail to avenge her family? Read on to find out, though I think you know the answer.
This review may be my most difficult. A film like ” Peppermint” never pretends to be anything more than it is. Right from the first scene, you know that Jennifer Garner means business and there will be blood. Oh yes, there will be blood. While I commend the filmmakers for sticking with the formula, there is a ton about this movie that can be torn apart. Maybe you see my quandary, do I review “Peppermint” gently as it is what it is, or do I have to steer into the negative skid caused by this film? I owe it to you, my faithful reader, to be honest, even if it is brutally so.
As always, I would like to start with the positives of “Peppermint” because we need some positive waves on the internet! Jennifer Garner as the main hero, Riley North, gives a surprisingly good performance. She handles the mourning mother and kick-ass action star balance with an ease I was not expecting. I know she reached stardom on ” Alias”, which had its share of action, but most of her film roles have been romantic comedies, dramas or light comedies ( we’ll ignore the whole Elektra business). I was surprised at how violent she was at times. Yes, this is a violent movie, and I did find that as a positive as well. It may sound weird to say that, but if we put ourselves in her position we would not hesitate to go to the extremes she does. To shy away from that would be a letdown. There is plenty of action to keep the movie moving along at a good pace so interest isn’t lost.
Alas, that is about as much positive that I have to say, so let’s get to that negative mojo that you crave so bad. “Peppermint”, with one glaring exception, is just lazy, lazy storytelling. I understand that this is a simple plot, but, my god, this movie is a copy of a copy of much better flicks. Everything you have seen in every bad action movie is here. The drug gang that kills Riley North’s husband and daughter, are all so one dimensional. There is absolutely nothing to them at all. The whole set up of killing her husband makes barely any sense, and the further into the movie you go it makes less sense. This goes into some light spoiler territory, so be warned. The local drug lord goes out of his way to have Riley’s husband, Chris, killed even though he did nothing to him. He pays off judges and lawyers and even bribes Riley to keep her mouth shut so the members of his gang, that he sent to kill Chris, can be set free. Yet when Riley finally kills off his goons, he acts like he has no clue about what happened to her.
When Riley does kill the three gang members that shot her husband and daughter, it is a bit of a letdown. For all the violence and action, we never see her actually kill these men only their dead bodies. These are the men that we want to see get justice for the horrible crime they committed, yet we are deprived of that. We see Riley gun down plenty of nameless gang members that we don’t know or care about, so why keep us from seeing Riley get her revenge on these men? It is what she trained for five years to do, it would have been cool to see her reaction to killing the murderers. Instead, we just fly by that to get to more gunning down of people we don’t know. I, for one, didn’t know who any of the gang members were in the organization and how she learned who they were, except the main drug lord.
Let’s get to the main criticism of this movie that will help you understand why it is lazy writing and why we know who the gang members are. We know that they are the drug gang because they are all Latino. There you have it, the reason you know she is killing gang members is they are walking talking stereotypes. At points in the movie, I felt sorry for the Latino actors because I know they needed the work but it must have been tough to play such obvious stereotypes. It’s sad that at no point in the filmmaking process, not one person said, ” Hey, this is beyond an awful representation of a group of people, maybe we should go another direction.”
You want some more lazy writing? The police are all morons. Riley is running around L.A. with no disguise what so ever, killing those that wronged her, and they can’t put two and two together. There is a 20-foot mural of Riley with angel wings, painted by her loyal fans, yet the police are clueless. Of course one of the cops is working with the gang lord, the writer had to check that box. After a while, the stupidity starts slapping you in the face, laughing at you the whole time. I did mention one exception, and that was adding Riley having visions of her deceased daughter, urging her mother on in her quest for revenge. It doesn’t happen often, but it could have been cool to have her daughter showing up to motivate her at various times in the movie when Riley is exhausted or needs that extra push. Just a thought.
My last two complaints, and believe me I could have kept going, are the way the fight scenes were shot, and the ending. The director uses a ton of quick cuts in the fight scenes, which are useless. Why have two character fight if you don’t let the audience see them actually fight, instead you keep cutting and switching angles? The hand to hand combat barely registers as you don’t see anything to get you on the edge of your seat. As far as the ending goes, this just may be my view of what should have happened, it isn’t very satisfying. I don’t want to give it away, but a character’s journey should have ended to give closure. It seemed like a cop-out at the end.
Oh, I forgot one major criticism, peppermint ice cream is wrong! It is just WRONG!
To conclude my rambling, ” Peppermint” is a tough movie to nail down. It is stupid and predictable, but it never tries to be anything more. Jennifer Garner does a good job bringing the pain, but this isn’t anything you haven’t seen before in better movies. If you do see this in theaters, make it a movie you sneak into so you don’t think, ” I paid for this!” Definitely wait for the DVD, or stream it or cable TV it!
If you have a differing opinion, or I missed something you noticed, feel free to comment below! Please like and follow so I know my work is reaching the humble masses!
As always, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho