Movie Review: Peppermint

Jennifer Gardner gets revenge in new violent action movie

Rachael Jaeger
Staff Writer

Peppermint seizes your attention instantly with hearing a struggle from the outside but follows with a cut to inside the car where a man and a woman are fighting.

Finally, the woman hisses in the man’s ear, “Do you remember me?” and soon, after a brief brutal struggle, a dead body drops to the ground and a woman steps out of the vehicle.

The woman is Riley North (Jennifer Gardner) who seeks justice for her murdered husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) and daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming) after the judge denies her credibility that she witnessed her family being shot to death. 

*This review contains some spoilers from here on*

That is the catalyst that drives the rest of the story, as Riley accepts her ice cream and looks up and from there, that shot cuts to another which captures a man who pulls out a long gun and fires from a vehicle.

When the man fires, the blasts freeze along with Riley who looks like her heart has actually stopped. The camera slows time down when it shows Chris and Carley and their ice cream cones falling beside their vehicle. 

The background details are what especially move her to action and should not be overlooked, especially that she feels beaten down from her life already. While she has a family who loves her, she desires a better life for them and so she works all the hours she can at her mediocre job.

She feels guilty for not spending more time with her family yet she exerts every effort she can which Carly, at a young age, recognizes and thanks her for. 

In contrast, Peg (Pell James) and her daughter are dressed alike, both blonde and dressed in white, to symbolize their attitudes of perfection. P

eg stays at home and is present at all her daughter’s events, yet disrespects Riley to a point that Carley tells her when they are alone, she “should’ve punched her lights out.” 

Meanwhile Chris cancels out on the deal that is supposed to change his family’s life but because it is involved with an Italian gang, that is the reason he and Carley die. His partner Mickey was already caught and shot, too. 

What is amazing is that although one could consider Riley as a villain, she is more of an antihero since she still maintains her humanity. One example is that she befriends a boy on a bus and gives him a reindeer toy that she took from the judge after she blew him up.

When she finds out the boy takes care of his drunk father, she tracks him down in the gas station and puts a bullet in his mouth for a “life-altering moment” and demands for his wallet. It is not to take his money as what would be the initial assumption, but to see where he lives and she swears that she will not spare him a second time. 

Director Pierre Morel planted a few scenes throughout his film when dead Carly appears as Riley’s conscience and towards the end, Riley knows what she must do. However, it is not as simple or easy as it sounds, and she does not compromise who she is or who she has become in her relentless goal to shed light on a corrupt political system. 

What is also ironic is that despite Peg’s perfect picture, she loses what she valued. Throughout Peppermint has examples of what comes back to bite you if you do not treat others with dignity. It also happens to each of the gang members and their leader.

It is also unclear what will happen to Riley at the closing scene when her own karma kicks back but by this time, you are rooting for her if you haven’t already.

There is so much more I could comment about Peppermint but it is one of those films that has so many complex angles. It does take the female role more seriously when it comes to an antihero and when you consider what has made the character who they are.

I highly recommend taking the time to attend any of the local theatres and sitting down with your peers afterwards to discuss the film. 

Feature photo by Maria Ly | MSU Reporter.

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