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Peppermint

In the 1970’s, actor Charles Bronson made a name for himself with the ‘Death Wish’ films. Charting his character’s vigilante-style justice on evil-doers caused huge controversy as well as massive box office dollars. Since then many have imitated its violent ways with mixed success. Taking a page from this bloody book is ‘Peppermint’ whose female protagonist is more than a match for Bronson’s snarling gun-wielder. Star of the TV series ‘Alias’, Jennifer Garner steps into his shoes with ease as her character dishes out vengeance on a grand scale.

Banker Riley North (Jennifer Garner) enjoys family life with her husband and daughter. When her husband becomes involved with dangerous drug-lord Diego (Juan Pablo Raba), her life changes forever. Diego’s men kill Riley’s husband and daughter while leaving her for dead. Recovering from her wounds, Riley seeks retribution. Learning deadly fighting skills, she sets out to destroy Diego and his organisation. The streets become littered with bodies as Riley cuts a swathe through the murky underworld.

‘Peppermint’ is a straight up action film without any deep themes. Apart from Garner’s role, the rest of the characters appear in broad strokes with subtlety quickly thrown out the window. This makes it difficult to fully invest in the story as it relies on a ‘black and white’ moral centre to tell it. Occasionally a point is made asking whether we agree with Riley’s actions or not although such moments are few. Pierre Morel directs with a good eye for action which is just as well given how little depth is felt elsewhere.

Garner equips herself well, making ‘Peppermint’ consistently watchable. Even if the plot goes off the rails, her forcefully energetic performance brings much needed range amidst the carnage. Her co-stars do what they can with the sketchily written material. They are only there to further the action sequences which are handled with flair. The shadowy cinematography aids in conveying Riley’s grungy, bleak world as does the steely music score.

Movies like ‘Peppermint’ have admirers who enjoy watching villains get their just desserts. It plays more like a computer-console game with anonymous characters being shot at without much consequence. In terms of explosive action ‘Peppermint’ provides plenty with the ‘revenge is a dish best served cold’ mantra dished out in chilly temperatures.

Rating out of 10: 5

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