“Peppermint” – R

By David S. Adams - Guest columnist

The Story

“We know everything, but can’t prove anything,” says Los Angeles Police Detective Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.). “We need a witness.” “I saw them,” says Riley North (Jennifer Garner), who watched her husband and daughter die in a drug-cartel, drive-by shooting. “Are you sure?” Carmichael says. “Yes,” Riley says, “I’m sure.” But before the murderers can be tried, corrupt city officials release them. That’s the setup for this seriously flawed action thriller in which Riley, consumed by grief and transformed — somehow — into a skilled killing machine, returns five years later to destroy the cartel, to torture the judge and kill other city officials who released her family’s killers.

Can Riley elude the law — LA police and FBI — and the ruthless bad guys? Can she survive, alone and grievously injured in LA’s skid row? Are you entertained by foul language and non-stop violence? I’m not.

The Actors

Jennifer Garner is Riley North, low-key and pleasant LA wife and mother. She works in a bank. Her husband, Chris, played by Jeff Hephner, owns a small auto-repair shop. Their daughter, 10-year old Carly (Cailey Fleming), with her mother’s help, sells cookies for her all-girls Fire-Fly troop. Money is an issue in this working-class family. “It’s not always going to be like this,” Jeff tells Riley. He and a friend secretly plan to rob drug dealers but, at the last minute, Chris backs out. Still, word gets to the cartel and he — and Carly — are killed. John Gallagher Jr. and John Ortiz play LA Police Detectives Stan Carmichael and Moises Beltran who investigate the murders. They are still on the case five years later.

Others in the cast include Juan Pablo Raba as mad-dog drug cartel boss Diego Garcia. Eddie Shin and Annie Ilonzeh are smart FBI agents Li and Inman. Tyson Ritter is “Homeless Sam” who lives on Skid Row and Cliff “Method Man” Smith plays LA Narcotics Detective Barker.

Other Comments

“Peppermint” is a highly improbable vigilante/revenge story. Directed by Pierre Morel, from Chad St. John’s underwritten, flawed script, the film leaves unanswered some really big questions. For example, how does Riley, mid-level bank employee, Fire-Fly den mother who teaches her daughter not to punch people who are jerks, turn herself into a lethal, buff, martial-arts-trained, assault-rifle sharp-shooter? And how does she, single-handedly, hang, upside-down from a Ferris wheel’s highest frame, three dead, 200-pound bad guys? Filmmakers offer no answers.

Rated R for pervasive strong violence and language, “Peppermint” runs 102 minutes. You can miss this one.

Final Words

Flawed flick, “Peppermint,”

Asks of us a lot —

Suspend our disbelief;

See it? I think not.


By David S. Adams

Guest columnist

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