Peppermint, directed by Pierre Morel and written by Chad St. John has got to be one of the worst movies out there. The movie stars Jenifer Garner as the protagonist, Riley North, whose husband plotted to steal from a drug lord, then he changed his mind but his message didn’t get through, then he and his family are gunned down. Riley survives and becomes a revenge-thirsty vigilante. The thin plot line is hollow and a mere suggestion to justify the gratuitous violence and the racist and misogynist rhetoric that it supports.
To say that Peppermint is intellectually lacking is an understatement; it’s lazy and extreme, as if it mirrors the rantings of a lunatic who sees things in black and white, Us vs Them, and needs to vilify or create an enemy out of an entire race of people to oversimplify the complexities of a lucrative market, drugs in America. In Riley’s society justice does not exist, the rule of Law is toothless, and all people who stand for justice are incompetent at best. The America reflected in Peppermint lives in fear, and pits the struggling White middle class against drug lords in a dynamic that reinforces every stereotype imaginable.
Great films, and even most bad films, strive to make a human connection that breaks down barriers and give viewers a sense of dignity that is bigger than themselves, Peppermint does none of that. Instead it feeds into fear and dehumanizes characters—Riley consistently shoots Latino men in the face, an act that is vile and speaks volumes for how Latinos are seen in this movie. The only drug crook she trusts is a dim-witted Caucasian man who she lets live after he sings like a bird; perhaps she didn’t think anyone else spoke English? The film doesn’t even stop anywhere along its bloodbath to explore the main character’s grief, she’s simply blinded by it, and killing is the only thing that will heal her…right.
Viewers should think critically about what they see in Peppermint because at a time when the political rhetoric pushes for extremes and simple answers to complex problems by demonizing minorities, Peppermint is an affront to American ideals. To top it off the direction and acting in Peppermint are appallingly bad with absolutely no character development. Jennifer Garner, WTF were you thinking?
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