Female action/super heroes are on the rise, thanks to films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the reincarnation of the Tomb Raider series, and movies like Atomic Blonde. One of the first big stars of the female action hero genre, Jennifer Garner, is back with Peppermint, which finds her once again kicking some serious butt. However, the biggest question running through most moviegoers’ minds while watching the movie will be, “Why?”
Why is the plot of the movie so threadbare? Garner plays Riley North, a doting wife and mother until her husband and daughter are killed in a drive-by shooting. She is said to have then dedicated herself to learning how to become an assassin in order to exact revenge, the process of which is barely mentioned. Why does the film all but hide one of the most important aspects of the plot?
Why is every other character besides Riley a caricature? The objects of her ire are members of a Mexican drug ring, all of whom have facial tattoos or act in certain ways so that they stick out like a sore thumb. Aside from the somewhat racist way in which they are portrayed, these and other characters are just lazily written, with no nuance at all.
Why does everyone talk in the most hackneyed clichés possible? Writer Chad St. John, who’s also responsible for London Has Fallen, puts some truly awful lines in the actors’ mouths. Many of the actors can barely seem to hide their disdain at having to say them. It would all be laughable if the movie wasn’t trying to be so serious.
Why is the movie named Peppermint? You’d think that it might be Riley’s nom de guerre, but no, she always goes by Riley. At a crucial point in the plot, Riley’s daughter does order a double scoop of peppermint ice cream. But if you didn’t know the movie was named Peppermint, that moment wouldn’t otherwise stand out, as it’s never referenced again in any form.
Why would Garner, who was a great action hero on Alias, subject herself to dreck like this? She’s by far the best thing in the movie, but even she can’t rise above the bad writing and the poorly directed action sequences. She does have a few interesting kills, if you’re into that kind of thing, but nothing that hasn’t been seen in better movies.
Why does Clifford “Method Man” Smith, arguably the second most well-known actor in the movie, not show up until well into the second half, and then only for a glorified cameo? With the other supporting actors barely making a dent, the film could’ve used the personality of the rapper. Given the lack of care taken with the rest of the movie, though, it’s no surprise the filmmakers underutilize one of their best assets.
Why was this movie made at all? Not one person involved seemed to have understood that they were making what could possibly be the worst movie of 2018. If you somehow find yourself in a theater watching it, you’ll likely be saying, “Why did I waste my money?”