In the action thriller PEPPERMINT – ANGEL OF VENGEANCE Jennifer Garner shoots her way through LA’s underworld as an avenger. The former “Alias” star is back in her element. But is the film really just a clumsy legitimization of vigilante justice? We reveal this and more in our review.
The Plot Summary
Riley North (Jennifer Garner) finds herself in a coma after a brutal attack on her family that leaves her husband and daughter dead. When she wakes up, she realizes that no help can be expected from the police and the judiciary, and that the murderers are instead being covered up. Filled with anger, pain and desperation, Riley decides to take justice into her own hands. She disappears from the scene for five years and prepares for an unstoppable campaign of revenge – the once law-abiding citizen becomes an urban guerrilla fighter who relentlessly cleans up LA, which has been riddled with corruption and cartel crime. She is always one step ahead of the underworld, police and FBI and serves up her own personal brand of revenge…
Movie explanation of the ending
Actress Jennifer Garner (“Love, Simon”) is now mainly cast for the role of the loving mother. The fact that the native Texan achieved her final breakthrough in an action series (“Alias – The Agent”) couldn’t be in greater contrast. The first episode of the format was around 18 years ago. A return to the genre is quite surprising, but if you still believe that a middle-aged actress can portray a fighting Amazon, it would be Garner, who is both well-trained and inviting to identify with because of her basic likeability. In “Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” she takes on the role of an avenger who, after the brutal death of her daughter and husband, sets out alone on a mission to put an end to her killers. Vigilantism is always a contentious topic in films: Where does the serious discussion end and where does the glorification begin? Eli Roth recently had to deal with this question when he brought Moral Guardian to the scene with his remake of “A Man Sees Red” – and unfortunately, not entirely without reason. Director Pierre Morel also has experience with the topic. Ultimately, his most successful film to date, “96 Hours,” which even spawned two sequels with identical casts, is also about nothing more and nothing less than a man who takes the law into his own hands. But while at least the first part of the Liam Neeson vehicle was well received, “Peppermint” is getting a lot of heat from overseas critics. You can definitely understand that, but at the same time you shouldn’t ignore the strong action choreography and the even stronger leading actress in the overall result.
Christopher Campos, Randy Gonzalez, and Sean Rosales take on the roles of the perpetrators who have to answer in court.
“Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” gives an insight into the strengths that the film can undoubtedly demonstrate in the following hour and a half in the first scene, only to immediately show the viewer its contrasting weaknesses in the next. Basically, Pierre Morel’s work is a constant ups and downs – the extent to which you can still enjoy it depends not least on how you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of “Peppermint” for yourself. The French native proves once again to be a gifted action director, with whom the “96 Hours” sequels would certainly have been a lot better. His other previous works “The Gunman” and “From Paris With Love” were also convincing, at least on the technical side, scoring points with varied set pieces, staged precision and a certain feel. The story, on the other hand, is usually secondary. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that in the action genre, just as there’s nothing wrong with the fact that they usually serve the lowest common denominator. Probably as many people can agree that a man absolutely has to save his kidnapped daughter as they can agree that it is completely understandable that a woman who has lost her entire family at the hands of armed villains would harbor bloody thoughts of revenge. Anyone who can swallow this starting point and, above all, doesn’t constantly question whether it is generally right to build an action thriller on such a premise (that’s another matter) is well served with “Peppermint”.
Screenwriter Chad St. John (“London Has Fallen”) From the very beginning, there is no doubt that he shows no interest in an ambivalent, perhaps even critical questioning of his title heroine. Garner’s Riley is introduced as a tough fighter who can beat everything out of her opponent even in the cramped conditions of a car, so we know: this is a woman you shouldn’t mess with! When a flashback finally describes in detail what brought the wife and mother so far in the first place, Morel does not shy away from the most manipulative staging devices: the little girl with the bright eyes who was just frolicking happily around the fair and at the same time licked a peppermint ice cream while his parents looked into each other’s eyes in love, is the next moment shot in super slow motion by the gangsters who actually had their daddy in their sights. The idyll is suddenly destroyed – and while the ice is still on the ground and melting, Riley’s thoughts of revenge are already swelling, which only take shape when the perpetrators are released in court. Of course, Jennifer Garner plays the mother with appropriate self-sacrifice; At no point does anyone, in front of or behind the camera, leave any doubt as to how this act has changed the mother and what a shame it is that the state failed at the point where the perpetrators should have been held accountable . The initial situation is so clear that any other reaction from the grieving widow would have seemed unrealistic in this context. So from now on, Riley sharpens blades and trains herself to become an almost invulnerable avenger.
In “Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” Jennifer Garner plays the main character Riley, who sets out on a bloody campaign of revenge.
So it’s a revenge film through and through that the viewer is served with “Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” (including the now unavoidable observations of how something like this is picked up on social media), except that here, for once, there is a woman is the center of events. However, Morel does not give his film a special narrative twist. Jennifer Garner proves to be an expectedly strong actress here, displaying an impressive physique in the fight sequences while presenting her suffering believably in the emotional moments. At the same time, their performance can’t prevent you from having to close your eyes more than once in order not to dwell on obvious logic holes for too long. You have to swallow the fact that Riley single-handedly takes on the entire undergovernment of LA, as well as a carelessly presented twist in the final third and, last but not least, the finale, in which the screenwriter cheerfully juggles the already contentious vigilante message of his film. It almost seems as if those responsible here aren’t really sure how they can actually bring their story to an end without putting themselves in trouble on a moral level. But all of that doesn’t change the fact that Pierre Morel does an absolutely solid job alongside Jennifer Garner: “Peppermint” is still strongly filmed despite the questionable basic idea, which you can stand by as you like, the banal script and the very striking production , has a good dozen solid action scenes and, despite all the predictability, it doesn’t have any noticeable length.
Conclusion: “Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” is a crisp vigilante thriller from which you should expect just as little narrative and directorial finesse as from any other film in its genre. But Jennifer Garner suits the role of the brutal avenger damn well and many of the action choreographies are also impressive.
“Peppermint – Angel of Vengeance” can be seen in USA cinemas from November 29th.