PEPPERMINT

"Almost Heartless"

NoneLightModerateHeavy
Language
Violence
Sex
Nudity

Summary:

PEPPERMINT stars Jennifer Garner in the story of a suburban housewife who trains to become an expert at shooting and fighting in all manner of ways in order to get revenge for the killings of her husband and young daughter on the fifth anniversary of their deaths. Poorly conceived, with a weak script, PEPPERMINT has a strong humanist, nihilistic worldview with excessive foul language, excessive revenge, and excessive violence.

Review:

PEPPERMINT stars Jennifer Garner in the story of a suburban housewife who trains to become an expert at shooting and fighting in all manner of ways in order to get revenge for the killings of her husband and young daughter on the fifth anniversary of their deaths. Poorly conceived, with a weak script, PEPPERMINT has a strong humanist, nihilistic worldview with excessive foul language, excessive revenge and excessive violence.

The plot of PEPPERMINT is simple. Working-class mother Riley North is shown happily being a Girl Scout mom with her young daughter until a rich fellow mother treats them with cruel condescension. We then see her at home with her struggling mechanic husband, who’s tempted by a friend to rob a local drug cartel but turns him down without the cartel knowing it. As a result, a cartel member tortures and kills the husband’s friend, then comes after him, not realizing he had backed out of the illicit plan.

Thus, the thugs tail the family and slaughter Riley’s husband and daughter in a machine-gun drive-by shooting, while Riley survives also being shot. When a corrupt judge allows the killers to go free on a technicality, Riley erupts in a fit of rage that gets her ordered to a psychiatric hold in county hospital. However, she escapes the ambulance and disappears, with police and FBI later discovering that she has somewhat ludicrously traversed the globe in the five years since the killings to train in all sorts of combat and shooting skills.

Riley is back in town for the fifth anniversary of her family’s murders and is out to kill everyone responsible for her husband and daughter’s murders, from the judge and lawyers to every possible member of the gang involved. As the cops and FBI try to find her and stop her rampage, social media and the local news all become fixated on her violent crusade, leading to a series of showdowns with the criminals.

PEPPERMINT tries to be a female version of DEATH WISH, but it feels cheap and poorly conceived and executed on nearly every level. Garner is the only recognizable actor in the entire cast, enabling the weak script to provide little or no motivation or humanity to any of the law enforcement officials or the gang members the heroine confronts.

Director Pierre Morel set the standard for modern revenge thrillers with the superb original film in the TAKEN trilogy, but there he had a CIA agent hero trying to save his daughter from sex trafficking and death. In PEPPERMINT, his new movie, Garner’s Riley North is a poorly drawn killing machine who mows down her victims like they’re faceless figures in a non-stop video game.

While there are a few impressive action scenes, it’s hard to care about nearly any of the action occurring because there are no emotional stakes involved that can make a great villain. By the time Riley tries to engage in her final showdown during the movie’s last half hour, PEPPERMINT has become a hopelessly tiresome slog that leaves viewers nothing to care about whatsoever.

Besides the excessive foul language and violence, especially troubling is the fact that nearly every single Latino in the movie is portrayed as a drug-making killer (minus the one police officer played by John Oritz). While we don’t care for the other extreme of denying that drug cartels often are from south of the border, PEPPERMINT’s relentlessly ugly depictions of dozens of Latinos without one redeeming character is a sad case of obvious race-baiting.

Put EVERYTHING together and PEPPERMINT is a movie that advocates violent revenge amid a cartoonishly corrupt judicial system. This is a movie that will leave a sour taste in most media-wise viewers’ mouths. PEPPERMINT has lots of mayhem, violence, and foul language, but not much art or heart.

Content:

(HH, B, P, OO, FRFR, LLL, VVV, A, DD, MM):

Dominant Worldview and Other Worldview Content/Elements:
Strong humanist, nihilistic worldview with little regard for human life as woman takes excessive vigilante revenge on drug gang that murdered her husband and daughter and on government officials who let her down or betrayed her because they are corrupt, mitigated by some pro-family elements where mother seeks retribution and justice for her murdered husband and daughter and by some moments defending the right to bear arms, plus false occult elements including numerous scenes with a skeletal, voodoo St. Mary statue that the drug lord in the movie prays to;

Foul Language:
At least 160 obscenities (mostly “f” words) and 18 mostly strong profanities;

Violence:
Very strong and strong violence includes numerous close-up, brutal, bloody hand-to-hand combat scenes where people are graphically punched, kicked, stomped, stabbed and shot at close range with absolutely no sense of humanity, the female protagonist is often the recipient of the violence, but she also dishes it out much more than her antagonists, scenes of torture such as a corrupt judge has nails stuck through his hands holding him to his desk before the heroine detonates a bomb that kills him, three dead thugs are seen hanging upside down from a ferris wheel, heroine punches a fellow Girl Scouts leader mother’s (the heroine’s rival) hard in the face and then ties her to a chair and led to believe her house will be set on fire with her in it, but then the heroine tells her she’s “just joking,” and a man is seen tied to a chair, drenched in blood, before being stabbed with a giant knife by a gang member and more of his blood is sent flying;

Sex:
No sex;

Nudity:
No nudity but several females counting money for the drug cartel are seen in their bras and panties while working, presumably to keep them from stealing money;

Alcohol Use:
Gang members are seen drinking alcohol;

Smoking and/or Drug Use and Abuse:
No smoking but drug supplies of gang members are frequently seen and discussed; and,

Miscellaneous Immorality:
Strong miscellaneous immorality includes heroine steals $55,000 from the bank where she works to finance her vigilante mission, heroine is shown on security camera footage stealing military-level weapons and ammunition from multiple locations, corrupt lawyer for drug gang tries to bribe the heroine into not pressing charges but she refuses to take the money, and one-dimensional portrait of Hispanics.

In Brief:

PEPPERMINT is a revenge thriller starring Jennifer Garner. She plays Riley North, a working-class mother who’s shown happily being a Girl Scout mom with her young daughter. A local drug gang mistakenly thinks Riley’s husband helped his friend to rob the gang. In a drive-by shooting, they kill her husband and daughter while Riley is wounded. A corrupt judge allows the killers to go free on a technicality. Five years later, after training to be a killing machine, Riley seeks revenge. The FBI and police try to find her and stop her rampage, but social media and the local news become fixated on her violent crusade.

PEPPERMINT tries to be a female version of DEATH WISH or TAKEN, but it feels cheap and poorly conceived and executed on nearly every level. The weak script provides little or no motivation or humanity to any of the law enforcement officials or gang members the heroine confronts. This revenge thriller has a strong humanist, nihilistic worldview with little regard for human life. PEPPERMINT has lots of mayhem, violence, and foul language, but not much art or heart.