Many people will do whatever is in their power to provide for their families and Riley North’s husband, Chris (Jeff Hephner) tries to do just that. But his efforts to do so leave him entertaining some shady business deals with the wrong people, which ultimately leaves himself and and their daughter, Carly (Cailey Fleming) killed, and his wife, Riley (Jennifer Garner), gravely injured. Alone in her grief, Riley is forced to pick up the pieces of her broken life, while trying to put away the men who robbed her of her family and life as she knew it.
Eventually, it is Riley’s time to get her family the justice they deserve but despite being the key witness and identifying all three shooters, a system of corrupt law enforcement, lawyers and judges sees the three culprits walk free. Sent into a rage, Riley leaves the witness box and lunges for the men who murdered her family. The judge quickly has the guards contain Riley and she’s arrested, only to be sent to a psychiatric hospital for evaluation – but Riley escapes and seemingly vanishes. Of course, various unconfirmed sightings have shown up here and there, but North evades capture each and every time.
Realizing all the corruption that surrounds the justice system at every level, Riley decides to take the law into her own hands. Going on a spree of vigilantism in the name of her dead daughter and husband, Riley serves to not only get justice for them, but serves as guardian angel of sorts to the homeless community she now lives in. Despite her past heartbreak, it is plain to see that Riley still has a heart, a big one at that. However, she is continually haunted by the crime being committed all around her and so she will stop at nothing to put an end to all the misery that continually engulfs the city.
Directed by Pierre Morel, Peppermint is actually one of the more satisfying movies I’ve seen this year. I never knew how much I needed to see Jennifer Garner blowing things (and people) up, punching out corrupt cops and criminals, as well as one particularly problematic woman. Garner takes no prisoners as Riley North attempting to clean up the messes all around her. Garner is really great in this role and it was refreshing to see her back in the genre that had a great impact on her career (i.e. the hit show, Alias). Garner is a great leading lady and I really do hope that this film serves to keep her on the silver screen in a big way.
However, despite Garner’s great performance, the film still does suffer from some missteps. These come in the form of some slight pacing issues, but the biggest would have to be the fact that aside from the corrupt judges and bribing defense lawyers, the biggest criminals are the members of the unspecified Latinx gang. Other than one officer (played by John Ortiz), all the other Latinx men represented in the film are portrayed as criminals. Although Juan Pablo Raba makes a great and convincing villain, he didn’t have to be one. This is probably the film’s most glaring issue and one that could have been corrected by altering the storyline slightly; an element which wouldn’t have hurt the film in the slightest, especially when Riley’s killing and vigilantism is indiscriminate. If you get in her way on her pursuit of justice, it’s likely that it will be lights out for you in a matter of seconds. So, truly the main culprits of behind her family’s murder could have actually been anyone. However, the script fell back on a tired trope we’ve seen too much of.
Peppermint is not for everybody and if you can get past its obvious issues, it is a decent film. It will appeal to those who enjoy films like Taken, Enough and Run All Night and of course, anyone who would like to see Jennifer Garner kick some serious a**.
Peppermint hits theaters today!