Peppermint Blu-ray Review

  • Actors: Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, Jr. John Gallagher, Juan Pablo Raba
  • Director: Pierre Morel
  • Writer: Chad St. John
  • Producers: Tom Rosenberg, Gary Lucchesi, Richard Wright, Eric Reid
  • Disc Format: Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish, English
  • Region: Region A/1
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
  • Rated: R
  • Studio: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: December 11, 2018
  • Run Time: 102 minutes

        I’ve always been a sucker for a well-made revenge film. This may be why South Korean cinema has such appeal, with these narratives creatively showing up in a variety of genres. While there are also a consistent stream of American revenge movies, they haven’t really been innovative or original since the 1970s. These days we mostly get cheap remakes of those brutal classics (such as Death Wish and I Spit on Your Grave), and those that aren’t just imitate the expected story points in the most generic of fashion. Peppermint is exactly this type of film, and might as well have just been titled Female Death Wish.

        The biggest problem with the formulaic nature of Peppermint is having to endure the same predictable set-up that nearly every American revenge film has had for the last four decades. First we must watch the act of brutality that leads to the vengeance, and in this case it is a young wife and mother that survives a gang attack against her family. Awakening from a coma to discover her husband and child murdered, Riley North (Jennifer Garner) expects the legal system to provide justice. When corruption leads to the men responsible being released, Riley goes into hiding and begins to prepare herself as a brutal fighting machine out for revenge against the attackers and those that shielded them.

        This is the point that the film should really take off, especially since the thrills of revenge narratives allow the audience vengeance vicariously. Unfortunately, Peppermint is so weighed down by the melodrama of the narrative that it never fully embraces the appeal of the sub-genre. Even with a decent amount of action, it all feels rather perfunctory. The violence is mild, despite being an R-rated film, but this may be partly due to the desensitization from the grotesque kills in Eli Roth’s Death Wish remake. When the story is predictable and the action is just as interchangeable, Peppermint’s best quality is the desire it gives to watch a better revenge film. Even having Garner convincingly playing the role of a tough woman (while also being believable as a loving mother and wife) isn’t enough to keep this film interesting. It merely feels like another product off of the American assembly line of filmmaking.

        The Blu-ray release of Peppermint also comes with a DVD and digital copy of the film, allowing for multiple ways to watch the movie. The high definition presentation of the Blu-ray disc does enhance the film’s visuals, especially in some of the darker night scenes of action. It isn’t exactly necessary for a film of this quality, but it is an improved presentation regardless.  The special features on the actual discs are limited, but at least one is better than the film deserves. There is a featurette entitled “Justice,” which is just a generic promotional video with the usual self-congratulatory interviews from cast and crew. More in-depth is the commentary track with director Pierre Morel (Taken). But that also means watching the film a second time with the commentary, which this film seems unlikely to demand from the typical viewer.  

Entertainment Value: 6/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10
Historical Significance:  3/10
Special Features: 5/10

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