‘Peppermint’ appeals with flavorful plot line
Jeff Harlan (left) and Jennifer Garner star in "Peppermint," a jam-packed movie with thrills and suspense. (Image used with permission from STXfilms).

For many, a dramatic thriller is considered one of two things: a film that introduces a sappy and unnecessary romance, or one that borders closer to a horror movie. However, for “Peppermint,” it is quite the contrary.

Imagine Rambo (a skilled Vietnam War soldier who brutally executes his enemies from the ‘80s movie “Rambo”) as a woman who must exact her family’s justice herself because of corrupt police forces and a judge who dismissed her family’s murder case altogether.

Riley North (Jennifer Garner, “Love, Simon”) is a typical white suburban mother who works shifts at a commercial bank and helps run her daughter’s Girl Scouts hobby. However, after her husband gets caught in shady activities related to the Cartel (a gang affiliated with drug trafficking), North’s world changes forever, as her husband and daughter are both gunned down on her daughter’s 10th birthday.

Fast forward five years, North has gone completely off the grid, avoiding the police to assassinate her family’s killers after years of training in Taiwan as a street wrestler. As she gets further tangled in relations to Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba, “Shot Caller”), one of the leaders of the Cartel, North soon realizes that she must take matters into her own hands.

The approximately 1.5-hour movie, released Sept. 7, is jam-packed with violence from rapid gunfire to suspenseful shoot-out scenes involving both North and the Cartel. Though the camera angles cause blurry scenes from time to time to insinuate the quick pace of the shots, the movements are still clear and understandable in the sense that the audience knows who the shooter is.

However, one takeaway from the movie was that smaller or even somewhat significant secondary characters were killed off instantaneously. Though many of the Cartel’s henchmen are so insignificant to the point that their names are no longer remembered, North’s assassination of them was much too quick, often lasting no longer than five minutes.

Other than the slight drawback in plot, the cinematography for “Peppermint” is exquisite, being both simple and concise. Many scenes included shots that were engaging and enjoyable.

One could imagine how hectic the scenes may get, especially since some of the police forces are spies for the drug traffickers. However, the cinematography paces itself well, which is quite a drastic contrast to the rapid shooting scenes.

This helps the audience understand which perspective director Pierre Morel (“Taken”) is focusing on, avoiding the confusion that would otherwise ensue.

As for the soundtrack, the movie consists of ethereal, atmospheric vibes with no lyrics, solely for the purpose of creating the tone for a certain scene. For example, the movie starts and ends with the piece “Dark Angel,” an extremely loud heavy metal tune with intense guitar riffs, instilling an uneasy feeling.

Overall, “Peppermint” is an intriguing movie that appeals more to those who enjoy vengeful bloodshed and short-lived shootouts with a 21st-century Hunger Games-type female lead. The film’s only negative aspect is how quickly the antagonist seems to fall, but to be completely honest, “Peppermint” is a flavorful film worth watching.

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