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Jennifer Garner in Peppermint (2018). Courtesy of Elevation.

Tony Rivetti/Courtesy of Elevation.

  • Peppermint
  • Directed by Pierre Morel
  • Written by Chad St. John
  • Starring Jennifer Garner, John Ortiz and John Gallagher Jr.
  • Classification 14A; 100 minutes

rating

At the end of a recent press screening of the revenge thriller Peppermint, the film ended abruptly, with the traditional rolling of closing credits replaced by the bright glare of house lights. This was likely a technical error on the part of the theatre, or maybe the credits simply weren’t ready, given that critics saw the film a month ago, before the crush of festival season. But I couldn’t help wondering whether no one simply wanted to admit they worked on Peppermint, a laughably bad melange of blood, guts and racial stereotypes.

Both a reminder that star Jennifer Garner used to kick serious butt on television’s Alias and a push to place her in late-career Liam Neeson territory, Peppermint leaves all sorts of terrible tastes in your mouth. The premise has potential, in a grindhouse sort of way, with Garner playing a doting mother who goes vigilante after her husband and young daughter are gunned down by L.A. gangbangers.

Yet Garner is saddled with a director who doesn’t know how to stage a fight (let alone a minute of genuine emotion), and bad-hombre villains plucked from the fever dreams of Donald Trump. The plot holes are large, the violence is preposterous, and its star can only put on a brave face and blow someone up.

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If producers were wise, they’d keep their names off this disaster forever.

Peppermint opens across Canada Sept. 7.

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