Throughout cinematic history, revenge has usually been a dish best served with a sizeable dollop of testosterone, with countless men going on countless bloody rampages. There have been a handful of revenge-fuelled films with women in the lead role, but these are usually confined to the horror genre. So, the prospect of an all-out action flick about payback that doesn’t feature Liam Neeson, Keanu Reeves or Bruce Willis as its central avenging protagonist sounded like just the ticket, especially if you’re still trying to banish the memory of this year’s Death Wish remake. The timing is also fortuitous, as the post-#MeToo power-shift could provide an extra layer of catharsis, on top of the customary arse-kicking fun. Sadly, Peppermint doesn’t equal Coralie Fargeat‘s fantastic Revenge as a story of a woman turning the tables on her male attackers and instead joins Death Wish’s dubious ranks as one of this year’s most derivative – and offensive – offerings.
Credit where credit’s due: Jennifer Garner returns to her Alias ways and gives it socks as a mother whose family are gunned down in a drive-by hit. And when the gang responsible are set free by a corrupt judicial system that deem her testimony to be unreliable, she’ll take a five-year break to become impervious to bullets and return with Old Testament justice on her mind. Director Pierre Morel and screenwriter Chad St. John (Respectively responsible for Taken and the script for the dire London Has Fallen) bring nothing new to the table, and, seemingly ill-content with generic vigilantism, make the movie lean more to the right than someone who’s just had their right leg shot off. Proceedings have a pernicious undercurrent of racism that yet again draws a parallel with Eli Roth’s wrong-side-of-timely Death Wish. Like the latter, if someone is foreign-looking on the colour chart, you can be sure they’re probably plotting to bust a cap in your suburban family’s white ass. It’s so steeped in xenophobia and Latin American stereotypes which fit all-too-sickeningly within current fear-mongering rhetoric that you’ll legitimately wonder whether Morel secured a Fox News sponsorship for this particular blend of red state-pandering propaganda. Do yourself a favour and seek out Fargeat’s knowing and genre-savvy Revenge instead.
Peppermint | Directed by Pierre Morel (US, 2018), with Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz, John Gallagher Jr. Starts November 29.
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