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Movie Review

You’ve heard of the story of Batman, right?

Sure you have: It's the one about the young guy who saw his parents killed and then set off to hammer-and-tong himself into a crime-fighting weapon of brains and brawn.

Well, you could think of Riley North as a female version of that story. She was a loving and caring mom whose family was brutally murdered right before her eyes. One minute they were all enjoying ice cream cones together. The next they were riddled with bullets and lying in pools of blood in a gutter.
And even though Riley saw the street thugs who did it, and testified to that fact, the corrupt legal system let them all walk with evil grins on their lips.

So Riley steals a lot of money, spends five years abroad fighting in cage matches and comes back honed to sinewy perfection, ready to bash some bad-guy backside. What am I saying? She’s ready to butcher some bad guys. And that goes for the judge, the lawyers and anyone else involved with her family's terrible miscarriage of justice. She’ll nail them to tables, blow out their brains, staple her wounds shut and come back for more.

Riley has no rules. No limits. No compunctions. She’s an unstoppable killing force who’s bloodier and nastier than any automatic rifle-wielding thug breathing. In fact, if you give her enough time, they won’t be breathing.

Now, if you’re thinking that Riley’s no-rules rage doesn’t sound very Batman-ish at all, well, I suppose you’d be correct. Then again, vigilante justice has gotten a lot nastier lately.

So, Riley might suggest that you simply get outta her way if you don’t want any of her bloody justice splashing on you.

Positive Elements

It's natural to feel righteous indignation on Riley’s behalf at the beginning of this film. She and her family members are struggling to make ends meet, but they’re also loving people who are just trying to do the right thing. Riley even refuses a cash bribe in order to follow a legal path to justice. After that righteous moment, however, all bets are off as Riley's revenge reigns.

There’s one seasoned cop in the mix who wants to follow the law. He takes steps to help those in need. But even he gives in to justifying Riley’s brand of lawless murder by movie’s end.

Spiritual Content

A drug kingpin named Diego Garcia prays to a statue of Santa Muerte, a skeleton-like female deity of death. Riley hides out in the “skid row” district of L.A.; people there think of her as their avenging angel¬ on their behalf, even going so far as to paint angelic representations of her on the sides of buildings.

At one point Riley cries out, “So help me God, I will kill every single one of you.”

Sexual Content

Women wearing just bras and underwear pack drugs for Garcia. A woman dressed in a formfitting and cleavage-baring dress delivers drinks to Garcia and a drug cartel boss.

Violent Content

Peppermint doesn’t shy from the bloodiness and gore of murder. Garcia and his heavily tattooed street thugs start things off by beating a man to a red pulp, lopping off his head with a machete (just offscreen) and riddling an innocent family of three with automatic weapon fire.

That said, most of the messy carnage here is perpetrated by Riley. She executes thugs with bullets to the forehead and temple. She blows out ankles, knees and skulls with shotgun blasts and snaps legs and arms with brutal kicks, punches and martial arts moves. Bodies of the dead are then hung up for the world to see as a grim warning to the bad guys she hasn't tracked down … yet. Riley also uses automatic weapons, pistols, shotguns, knives, explosives and percussive grenades to rip, tear and detonate the flesh of everyone from gritty killers to crooked judges. Blood sprays across the scenery and flows freely from a variety of vicious-looking wounds.

Many of those wounds are on Riley’s body. She’s punched and battered by much larger men. We see her staple shut a gory gash on her thigh. She’s stabbed several times in the side by an ice pick (inflicting goopy wounds that the camera examines closely). And her face is often covered in crimson smears from any number of cuts and abrasions.

Elsewhere, a man’s hands get nailed to a table (off-camera). A female FBI agent is shot in the chest. Someone else is shot in the head and seemingly dies before being resuscitated. Several buildings erupt in enormous explosions. Baddies riddle vehicles with gunfire. Several children are threatened and/or killed.

Crude or Profane Language

Some 30 f-words and 15 s-words join multiple uses each of “b--ch,” “a--,” “h---” and “d--n.” God’s name is combined with “d--n” once and Jesus’ name is profaned once, too.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Garcia and his street thugs smoke cigarettes. And a couple of those guys pass around a joint just before driving up to kill someone. Several people drink hard alcohol. That includes Riley, who swigs from a bottle of vodka to deaden her pain; she also uses the alcohol as a disinfectant. A cop pours booze into his morning cup of coffee.

After losing her family and getting a nasty head wound, Riley is prescribed several different antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs. We never see her take them, but we do see the prescription bottles.

Other Negative Elements

A woman urinates when she's afraid in a scene that's played for laughs. Riley steals vehicles as necessary and manhandles anyone on the street she believes needs to be taught a lesson—including a man who drinks too much and fails to be a good father.

Conclusion

We like to see “good guys” win at the movies. And that’s especially true when the hero battles someone really dastardly, such as a vicious drug kingpin, a victimizing bigwig, or an entrenched and corrupt legal system.

Revenge movies cater to that urge. You can look at everything from that standalone sheriff in High Noon to the heavy-hitting Batman flicks to the gun-packing old guy in a Death Wish film and see how for decades we moviegoers have been invited to cheer for anyone battling for right in the face of great wrong. And in this day and age, there are those who believe it’s particularly exciting if it’s a woman who’s able to stand up, wipe the blood from her lip and give back as much pain as she gets.

These revenge-based stories all appeal to a primal—albeit still-problematic—longing to dish out justice on our own terms … all things that Peppermint tries to exploit.

But in spite of the fact that actress Jennifer Garner works very hard as this pic's gritty and determined lead, this is simply a … bad movie. And it's bad on every level.

For starters, Peppermint's infatuation with gorily glorifying vengeance is rife with moral, legal, philsophical and theological problems. But it's bad on other levels, too: This flick is a horribly written 102 minutes of bloodletting and spewed foul language. It is, truthfully, little more than cinematic self-flagulation.

So if you sit through all of Peppermint's gory abuse, you'll walk out with the realization that you were the one who suffered the most.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Credits

Rating

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Jennifer Garner as Riley North; John Gallagher Jr. as Detective Stan Carmichael; John Ortiz as Detective Moises Beltran; Juan Pablo Raba as Diego Garcia; Cailey Fleming as Carly North

Director

Pierre Morel ( )

Distributor

STX Entertainment

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

September 7, 2018

On Video

December 11, 2018

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Bob Hoose

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults
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