By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Jennifer Garner brings a fiery intensity to her lead role in Peppermint, a film that also delivers some incendiary action sequences.  However, these positive elements are simply not enough to elevate this movie above the average revenge flick.  An undercooked script with underdeveloped characters keeps this violent and visceral film from achieving the heights of the Kill Bill‘s and John Wicks.  Don’t get me wrong, Peppermint is an entertaining piece of cinema, but one that doesn’t quite  deserve big time box office money.

Garner stars as Riley North, a loving mother to daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming) and devoted wife to husbsnd Chris (Jeff Hephner).  After Carly and Chris get killed in a drive by shooting, Riley disappears off the grid only to emerge trained and prepared for revenge. As Riley begins to successfully seek out “justice,” her activities draw the attention of police detectives Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.), Moises Beltran (John Ortiz) and FBI Agent Lisa Inman (Annie Ilonzeh). Riley also wins over the hearts and praises of the general public who voice their approval via social media.  Her remaining targets, particularly drug lord Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba), take a proactive approach to this new threat, and attempt to stop her before she hits all of her targets.

Written by Chad St. John and directed by Pierre Morel, Peppermint doesn’t necessarily disappoint, but really doesn’t impress overall either.  St. John and Morel do a fine job of introducing theur protagonist and building empathy for her, but then rushes and glosses over her development as a badass and gets to the revenge beats.  The villain characters and cop characters are cardboard thin and developed using cliches and stereotypes.  The main action sequences deliver excitement, but the movie as a whole feels rushed and messily pieced together product.

The movie also offers very little originality with its story.  It appears as if the filmmakers took lots of notes from other superior vengeance flicks and implemented these elements into their film. Now granted, it us difficult to do something completely original with thisd type of movie, but Morel and St. John didn’t bring a unique voice or style to it.

Most of the supporting cast members offer adequate performances in their roles, despite the limited development.  But it is Jennifer Garner who blazes with fury, intensity, and anguish as Riley North. Aside from the solid action, Garner is the main reason to give this movie the time of day. Fans of Garner’s action series Alias shouuld be happy to see the talented actress return to an ass-kicking role, but will probably also wish it had been in a better vehicle.

Still, the movie is neither a complete waste of Garner’s talents or powerful screen presence, but I can’t help, but think she deserves way better. Peppermint is an okay movie, and if one lowers expectations, it can be fun.  The movie might not be the action comeback of the decade, but it is a welcome return to form.  Perhaps an awesome action director like Chad Stahelsky (John Wick), David Leitch (Atomic Blonde)  or Gareth Hwu Evans (The Raid) can give her the incredible action feast fans really want to see.

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