Free for all month this month and that means clearing off some of the old Amazon/Netflix wish lists and hoping for the best. But sometimes your best just isn’t good enough, is it Jennifer Garner (star of this week’s vigilante justice tale)?
Five years after her husband and daughter are killed in a senseless act of violence, a woman comes back from self-imposed exile to seek revenge against those responsible and the system that let them go free.
Starring: Jennifer Garner • John Gallagher Jr • John Ortiz
Riley North is just a normal mom, juggling family life with the best of them. Times are tough at home financially, like any ordinary family in this economic climate but there’s a lot of love there and that’s ultimately all that matters, right?
Her main concern as we meet her, is getting her daughter’s birthday party to run without a hitch. Which is marred ever so slightly by her blonde nemesis, a fellow mom, who has a go at her for not attending Mom Meetings and stealing her Christmas cookie selling ‘patch’. When Carly (Cailey Fleming) urges Riley to punch that bitch in the face, her mother remarks that that would only make her as bad. *Ooooooooh foreshadowing!*
Riley’s husband Chris (Jeff Hephner), meanwhile receives a call from an associate, urging him to come in on a plot to rob a notorious drug dealer called Diago Garcia (obviously). The stereotypes in the film as rife btw which makes it feel very dated. Honestly, it has the feel of an 90’s action movie with none of the fun. But I digress.
Mr North values his fam more than anything so after toying with the idea of giving them the life they deserve, he turns down the assignment. Alas, Cherry Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) catches wind of the plan anyway and orders his gang (tattooed faces and all) to “smoke him”. Queue the horrific act, set to the pleasing backdrop of the twinkly Christmas fayre.
Riley survives of course because if she didn’t we’d have been spared all of this but alas, she’s the only one. This is quite a long winded intro that could just have been: Riley’s husband is mildly a criminal, gets himself and their daughter killed but honestly, from here it’s very samey. Which is weird because it has a fit woman protagonist in a vest killing dudes, there should be everything to like about it. Unfairly perhaps (and another nod to how dated it feels), all the time I was watching I was wishing Jennifer Garner was Angelina Jolie.
With her family dead and her own head injury to recover from, Riley has a lot to contend with – but she remembers everything and quickly identifies the killers in their police line-ups. Alas, the American justice system (as portrayed here) is corrupt as fuck and Go Diego Go is just too deadly to mess with. He has people ‘on the inside’, the DA and judges in his pocket – and predictably, Riley is set up as an unstable witness.
All three gang members walk and Mrs North is tasered and then whipped off to the psyche ward because she’s obviously hysterical and hysterical women need to be stopped at all costs. What they don’t count on is that this dame has nothing to lose now and she breaks free, never to be seen again…
… Well, until FIVE YEARS LATER when the Feds find the bodies of the three men responsible for the North murders strung up execution style in the very spot where it all went down. TO THE DAY.
Who could it be? 😉
As Jillian rightly says in her review, there’s something unsavory about the connotations of what Riley is doing. Sure she’s slaying everyone who wronged her indiscriminately but the imagery of the first bodies hanging from the ferris wheel is a harsh one and thrown out carelessly.
Riley is a woman on a mish (and we learn via ‘reports’ from the FBI that she’s spent the past five years learning how to fight and be a weapons expert) but there’s nothing to her. She is relentless but it doesn’t make us feel for her. There was no point, even at the beginning where I cared about her or her family – and that’s not a good sign.
As she picks off all the wrong ‘uns on the way to the Big Boss, we learn who’s corrupt and who’s actually on her side, and there are really no surprises. Even the vigilante angle, where we learn she’s being revered as a street hero feels tagged on. There’s just no personal touch, no connection to the cause and no reason to root for her, even though she was treated so unfairly.
I’m afraid it’s a no from me, Jennifer. Peppermint is instantly forgettable, quite racist and empty too. Oh but you did look good in your white Bruce Willis vest, I’ll give you that.
⭐½ out of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐