Provokr Pick: Peppermint

Jennifer Garner is Back in Action

BY: Zak Wojnar

For a long time, it seemed like Jennifer Garner was avoiding her first, best destiny. Despite shining brightly in dramatic, domestic movies like The Tribes of Palos Verdes and Love, Simon, it felt like she was holding something back. Back in 2001, Garner’s star-making role was as secret agent Sydney Bristow in J.J. Abrams‘ groundbreaking spy series, Alias, a role she dominated for five pulse-pounding seasons on ABC. Since then, however, appearances indicated the one-time action heroine had moved on from the world of high-octane thrills. All told, it’s been eleven years since Garner starred in an action film, Peter Berg‘s underrated military thriller, The Kingdom.

At long last, the wait is over, since Jennifer Garner‘s latest film, Peppermint, is aiming to be a kick-ass, crowd-pleasing, action-packed revenge flick. In today’s world of watered-down “four quadrant” movies designed to appeal to teenage audiences, the gritty, R-rated actioner is an increasingly rare occurrence. For such a film to star a woman is even more rare. For that woman to be over 45 years old is all but unheard of.

Enter Peppermint. Directed by Pierre Morel, who turned Liam Neeson into a bona fide action hero with 2008‘s surprisingly awesome Taken, Peppermint stars Garner as Riley North, a woman whose family is killed in a drive-by shooting by a murderous drug cartel. After the justice system, full of crooked cops and corrupt judges, fails her, she opts for violent, brutal, gratuitous, and righteous revenge. She spends five years honing her skills and becoming a beautiful machine of revenge. She couldn’t protect her family, but she’s going to avenge them. It won’t undo what had been done, and two wrongs don’t make a right, but someone has to make sure the evil that men do doesn’t go unpunished.

Morel is one of the best action directors in the business; aside from Taken, he also directed the Parkour-based action extravaganza District 13 (not to be confused with Neil Blomkamp‘s sci-fi allegory, District 9), and the delightfully off-the-rails From Paris with Love, starring John Travolta and Jonathan Rhys Myers. Of course, Jennifer Garner’s vigilante pedigree has been long-established, and its amazing to see her stretching her action muscles again, so many years after she last beat up the bad guys in Alias.

From the controversial Death Wish back in 1974, to the 1984 Subway Shooting by real-life gunman Bernie Goetz, the idea of vigilante justice has been endlessly debated and argued. Still, there’s no denying that the image of a single person, armed with “a very particular set of of skills” and the willpower to right wrongs and do good in a world gone bad, is an iconic snapshot of Americana. We believe in heroes, from comic book icons like Batman, to Old West gunslingers like those played by John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, to the 21st century heroine, Riley North.