Starring: Jennifer Garner, John Gallagher Jr., John Ortiz
Director: Pierre Morel
Running Time: 102 mins
Peppermint is an American film about a woman who, after seeing her husband and daughter murdered in a drive-by shooting, sets about a spree of revenge to give the killers what they deserve.
You’ve seen Taken, you’ve seen John Wick. Now, prepare for a film that takes cues from both, but turns the fun factor down to 0, and instead plods along with a dull and unpleasant pace and atmosphere, as well as a total lack of likability or heart-pounding excitement at any moment. Peppermint may have the premise to get you excited, but with desperately poor directing and even an underwhelming lead performance, it feels so much more like one of those direct-to-DVD action movies that few people ever even bother to watch.
Now, I’m not saying that either Taken or John Wick are masterpieces of fiercely intelligent or original action cinema. Taken works well because of its extreme intensity, as well as a hugely charismatic and memorable lead performance from Liam Neeson. John Wick, meanwhile, is pretty much as basic and simple as action thrillers get, yet with stunning direction, gorgeous cinematography and a pulsating pace, it makes the premise an immensely entertaining watch right the way through.
In comparison, Peppermint fails to bring any of the same charisma or pizazz to the table. Its story is basic, yes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a boring or bad film. What does mean that it’s a bad film, however, is its total lack of energy or real character, the sort that means you sit there for over an hour and a half watching a woman going round killing random people without the emotional backdrop or non-stop entertainment value to make it a really outstanding film.
Early on, Peppermint does try to grab you with the death of Jennifer Garner’s husband and daughter in a drive-by shooting, and while that’s a perfectly legitimate reason for the revenge spree she embarks on throughout the movie, it never really feels like the most striking or truly devastating moment that would spark such a violent reaction.
Again, most comparable to Taken, in which a father goes to extreme lengths to retrieve his daughter after her kidnapping, Peppermint does well to show the endless extents to which a parent will go to save/avenge their family, yet while Taken’s presentation of the kidnapping and subsequent emotional fallout is absolutely devastating, Peppermint feels a whole lot more inconsequential, which makes even less sense given that the murder of a family member is arguably even more horrifying than a kidnapping.
And it’s that lack of real emotion and drama that really makes Peppermint fail. It doesn’t have to be an immensely entertaining or fun movie like John Wick, but if it is going for a more serious side, then it definitely has to feature some real emotional depth or drama to allow you to connect to the main character’s inner turmoil to at least some degree.
Director Pierre Morel really makes that difficult with a drab and slow-paced film throughout, while even lead actress Jennifer Garner doesn’t do all that much to endear you to her character due to a fairly wooden performance. As a result, while this may have the look of a decent thriller, its lack of depth and genuine intrigue makes it a really rather underwhelming watch, and means that it never really excites or impresses at any point, which is why I’m giving Peppermint a 5.9 overall.