FlixChatter Review: Peppermint (2018)

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Director: Pierre Morel
Writer: Chad St. John
Running Time: 1h 42min

Review by: Vitali Gueron

Jennifer Garner makes her return to the action genre with the movie Peppermint, directed by Taken director Pierre Morel. After many years of male stars exacting revenge on criminals (think Liam Neeson in the Taken franchise), it now became Garner’s turn to just that, but unfortunately the whole setup by now has become tired and overused. Despite a well-acted and very committed performance by the lead actress, Peppermint unfortunately is a very forgettable and rather bland action movie that leaves almost no impressions with the audience.

Garner plays wife and mother Riley North, who we find out early on is a very committed mother and isn’t afraid to take on other parents who try to come between her and her daughter. When Riley and her husband Chris (Jeff Hephner) turn to plan B after their daughter’s birthday party doesn’t go as planned, they decide to cheer up their daughter Carly’s (Cailey Fleming) spirits with a spontaneous trip to a Christmas Fair for some fun and ice cream.

When asked what ice cream flavor young Carly wanted, she asked for – you guessed it – Peppermint. Before leaving the fair, husband Chris called up his friend Mickey (Chris Johnson) to inform him that he was pulling out of a proposed robbery job that would see him make a lot of money but potentially risking his family’s well-being. Unfortunately, the drug kingpin they wanted to steal from, Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) learns about their plans and decides to move first.

Already having taken care of Mickey, Diego sends his gang thugs to follow the family at the fair, and shockingly gun down both Chris and Carly in front of Riley. Due to massive corruption in the criminal justice system, Chris and Carly’s killers are allowed to walk free, while the judge forces Riley to be institutionalized in a psychological care ward. Riley escapes and for the next five years she falls off the grid, only to return when she’s ready to bring the murderers to justice on her terms.

This is where the movie goes off the deep end, with Riley taking out everyone from Chris and Carly’s killers (leaving them hanging with their feet tied up off a Farris wheel) to the judge who freed their killers and tried to institutionalize her (by blowing up his house with him inside). Meanwhile LAPD detectives Stan Carmichael (John Gallagher Jr.) and Moises Beltran (Ray Ortiz) are on Riley’s trail and unsurprisingly to the viewers, one of the detectives is good while the other is bad and is working with drug kingpin Diego Garcia and his gang members. Neither one of the supporting actors are memorable or given any substantial material to work with. The rest of the villains are faceless cartel and gang members who are trying to track down Riley before she causes any more problems for their operation and neutralize drug kingpin Diego Garcia.

While Peppermint does have some strong action sequences, there isn’t one single sequence that stands above the rest as the sequence everyone will be talking about after the end. If you’re a die-hard Jennifer Garner fan, you may enjoy this movie more than I did, but I will only remember this movie as a failed attempt to bring back the revenge thriller genre with the hopes that miss Garner can do what many before her could not. It won’t be long before this revenge thriller is also forgotten.


Have you seen ‘PEPPERMINT’? Well, what did you think? 

TCFF 2014 Opening Night Festivities + ‘Men, Women & Children’ review

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Today’s the day! The fifth annual Twin Cities Film Fest kicked off with the Minnesota premiere of Jason Reitman’s latest drama, Men, Women & Children. As he always does year after year, TCFF Executive Director Jatin Setia introduced the film and asked the packed audience to give him a five to commemorate our fifth year bringing the film fest to cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike in the Twin Cities and beyond!

Jatin also pointed out the social cause that our film fest bring to the community since year one, when the social theme of the year was education, hence Waiting for Superman was the opening night film back in 2010. We’ve since introduced a CHANGEMAKER series, with the tagline ‘Watch. Learn. Act.’ Check out this FREE event on Friday, Oct 24 at 6:30 event, presenting “Breaking Free from the Life” documentary, followed by Survivor Panel event at Showplace ICON Theatre Lobby.

OldFashioned2015Early in the evening, just before the first screening of the year, I had the privilege of chatting with Rik Swartzwelder, the writer/director/star of Old Fashioned, which will have two showings at TCFF! I’m glad we’re showing a film like this, a classic romance where two people attempt the impossible … an “old-fashioned” courtship in contemporary America. Now that is rare indeed in today’s culture. I really enjoyed our conversation, so stay tuned for the full interview transcript later this week!

Here are some pics from tonight’s festivities:

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And lookie here… the lovely Haley Lu Richardson, who’s got not one but TWO films screening at TCFF, is in town and having a blast! Looking forward to chattin’ with her tomorrow morning 😀


Can’t help joining on the fun, too w/ my pal Julie 😀

 


Now on to the first TCFF review of the year…

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Men, Women and Children (2014)

Jason Reitman has a knack for portraying interesting [read: quirky] relationships in his films. This is his sixth feature film and once again he explores relationships and its predicaments. This time it’s set in the age of the internet, as Emma Thompson narrates throughout the film whilst we’re shown views of earth from space. The film is a blatant commentary of how we are inevitably affected by the enormous social change that comes through digital devices such as our phones, tablets, laptops, etc. that many of us can’t live without. Nobody is immune, as the title of the film says, the internet affects every man, woman and child [except perhaps the Amish people] and alters how we deal/view relationships with each other.

It’s a topic that’s as relevant and timely as ever, and the concept itself is appealing because most of us today can relate to this. Alas, I don’t think the execution quite hit the mark here. The performances are good but somehow the story took too long to built, and in the end it just wasn’t as engaging as I’d have liked it to be. Right away the theme of the film reminds me of Disconnect which also deals with how ‘disconnected’ we have become in an age where everything is readily available to us at the touch of a button. That film isn’t perfect either but I think it did a better job in telling the story and made us care for the characters.

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Except for a few, most of the characters don’t feel real to me, they’re more caricatures painted with such broad strokes of opposite extremes. One set of parent is waaay too strict about protecting their kids from the danger of the internet, and the other are waaaay too loose that they lose sight of even the most basic societal boundaries are in regards to what/how much one should share online and such. A lot of these characters are so predictable, you expect them to behave in a certain way and voila, they do exactly that. Most of the young actors playing the teens seem so awkward here, and their story lines are too heavy-handed but in the end they’re not fully-realized either.

Adam Sandler gives a restrained performance as one half of a couple in a troubled marriage, with Rosemarie DeWitt playing his bored housewife. Their marriage is as lethargic as the way these interwoven stories are portrayed. Try as I might, the stories just don’t quite captivate me. DeWitt’s scenes with Dennis Haysbert is perhaps one of the most cringe-inducing scenes I’ve seen all year. I know it’s supposed to be awkward given the circumstances, but it’s the way it’s directed that’s problematic, so I don’t blame the actors. It’s too bad as I like DeWitt as an actress and I think Sandler does have dramatic chops when he choose to use it. I’m more impressed by the secondary characters played by Ansel Elgort, Kaitlyn Dever and Dean NorrisJennifer Garner is as dour and stern as I’ve never seen her before, playing an overprotective & controlling mother that undoubtedly produces the opposite effect of what she’s trying to achieve.

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The use of music is a bit odd too, sometimes the songs played are so loud that it felt jarring, and others there’s not a single sound as the camera zooms in on an actor’s face with no word is spoken. The visuals are as somber as the stories, the muted color palette just isn’t aesthetically pleasing here. But the look of the film is the least of the its problems. I just think Reitman, who’s a gifted filmmaker who’s made terrific work such as Thank You For Smoking and Up in the Air, is trying too hard here in striving to be profound and philosophical. Now, the themes presented here certainly are thought-provoking and the idea that face-to-face human relationships just can’t be replaced by technology isn’t lost on me. I just wish the film were more engaging as I found myself looking at my watch a few times, even as the last third did improve a bit in terms of pacing. Perhaps a more straight-forward approach and injecting a bit more humor into this might’ve made the film more palatable and entertaining. It’s not a terrible film per se, but I expected a lot better from Reitman.

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Well that’s it for Day 1 folks, stay tuned for more TCFF coverage in the coming days!