By Khaleel Herbert
“Peppermint” begins with Riley North (Jennifer Garner) as the typical working mom who adores and cares for her daughter and husband (Cailey Fleming and Jeff Hephner), although she wants to punch the lights out of her boss and snobby mom.
When her daughter’s birthday goes sour, the trio venture to the Christmas carnival for frolic, fun and ice cream. Like Job, Riley’s world is flipped when her family is murdered drive by-style by a Mexican drug cartel led by Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba who sort of resembles John Travolta’s Ryder in “Taking of Pelham 123”). Riley was injured, but alive. When she identifies the murderers and testifies, the justice system lets them walk free. Enraged, Riley goes on a five-year hiatus. When she returns to Los Angeles, she’s back with heavy artillery and her radar on Diego.
Garner taps into her action days of Daredevil, Elektra and Alias. But this time, she’s unhinged and uncensored. She’s a bad mutha clucka who isn’t afraid to blow up Piñata shops, scare alcoholic dads and make snobby moms (Pell James) pee themselves. Like Denzel Washington’s “Equalizer 2,” “Man on Fire” and “Magnificent Seven,” she shows no mercy on her path to seeking justice.
Sure, “Peppermint” may be a rehash of vigilante movies like Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde” and Angelina Jolie’s “Salt” and others, but who cares? What stories are truly original anymore? It’s all about the uniqueness in the genre. While “Crazy Rich Asians” and Mission Impossible 24 (or however many of those bastards are out now) dominate the box office, “Peppermint” is a numbing thrill-ride that shows a powerful female kicking booty with nothing to lose. This smashes The Rock’s “Skyscraper” because the ending doesn’t insult the audience and Garner is raw protecting the weak on her vengeful road.
Like “Salt,” the ending leaves audiences yearning for a sequel. Maybe Riley doesn’t have OCD, but she’s a woman who isn’t afraid to break her nails or get her hair messed serving up justice and a can of whoop-ass. The name isn’t catchy. Why not simply call this Riley North or Gun Angel? It may not be number one at the box office or get the highest score on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s not a rom-com like “Crazy Rich Asians” or have weird sexual antics like “The Happytime Murders” for Christ sake! You can’t go wrong with Jennifer Garner.
Studio: Stx Films (1hr. 42 mins)
Cast: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr., Annie Ilonzeh, Cliff “Method Man” Smith, Juan Pablo Raba
Director: Pierre Morel
Story: Riley North takes the law into her own hands after her husband and daughter are brutally murdered by a drug cartel.
Final Score: A-
This review was originally published on Blackflix.com