Film: “Peppermint”; Starring: Jennifer Garner; Directed: Pierre Morel; Rating: **(2 stars)
The kindest thing I can say about this no-holds-barred vigilante drama is that it makes no bones about its elementary target. This actioner with much sound and no substance puts the talented Jennifer Garner into a no-brainer bloodbath after her husband and little daughter are gunned down on the night of her birthday.
When the law turns the other way Riley (Garner) must take it (the law, though not the narrative) in her own hands.
The film open in the middle of the plot, with Riley savaging a distinctly despicable sort in a car. The wailing soundtrack aids the saga of violence much in the same way that an aphrodisiac helps the sexually disengaged sex worker. From there it pushes into a flashback on “Riley North ko gussa kyon aata hai?” (what makes Riley North angry).
The happy-family bit is rubbed in with the gleeful accentuation of a Bollywood happy-family film. Only the song is missing. But then “Peppermint” (the title comes from the flavour of the ice-cream the daughter enjoys before the gruesome tragedy) doesn’t allow us to feel any of the protagonist’s unspeakable pain.
Director Pierre Morel is so taken up with the task of his heroines vigilantism in all its blazing-guns glory, he barely gives the plot room to breathe.
It’s all bang-bang with not a moment of tender introspection. Strangely as the story progresses Riley loses focus of her mission (to avenge her family’s death). Garner’s Riley goes berserk with the gun. In one sequence she roughs up an alcoholic father of a little girl after threatening a store owner warning him not to sell the sodden father any hard beverage. This kind of collateral justice serves no purpose in the plot.
In scene after scene, Garner ploughs through showy, thunderously staged shoot-outs and then sits down to sew herself together. Alas, there is no sowing-and-mending for the script of this tacky flashy tawdry revenge drama which could do with a lot more self-control.
Rage is a good remedy for wrong-doings but only when used with prescriptive restrain. The narrative of retribution goes berserk in this film.
On the plus side, “Peppermint” does have some exciting shoot-outs and the sheer idea of a woman training herself to beat the hell out of her venomous adversaries is an incentive to see the film. If you like that kind of a thing.