Let’s start with the title of the film: “Peppermint.” That’s a terrible title for this movie, giving no clue at all to its real essence. Peppermint as an ice cream flavor shows up in only one scene, and it’s not a critical detail. Given that approach, the film could’ve been called “Birthday” or “Photo booth Pics.” This is a gritty film about deep-seated revenge. A soccer-mom’s revenge, which in and of itself, could be considered the worst kind.

“Peppermint” has a heavy dose of relentless violence and plot situations that force a huge stretch of the imagination. Could one woman, even one who trains for five years, really fight and dismantle an entire drug cartel?

Although the suspense builds to a required crescendo, the lack of variety in the circumstances as they unfold made me hope things would wrap up about twenty minutes sooner than they did. My popcorn tub was empty, and I was more than ready for the film to end before it did.

Jennifer Garner gives it her best shot playing Riley North, a suburban mom who works at a local bank and drives a van. Her sweet daughter Carly (Cailey Fleming) has a birthday, but thanks to some rival Girl Scout mom meanness, none of the guests shows up at her party. Riley’s happily married to Chris North (Jeff Hephner), who owns an automotive shop, and when the party goes south, he agrees with Riley that they should take Carly out for a fun evening at the local amusement park.
Unbeknownst to Riley, Chris has been flirting with disaster. One of his associates proposes a robbery. Although Chris eventually turns him down, the damage has already been done because the would-be victim Diego Garcia (Juan Pablo Raba) has his number.

Of all the people they could’ve chosen to rob, Diego Garcia is the worst possible candidate. He’s a drug lord with an army of gun-toting compatriots who shoot first and never bother to ask question. Thus, at the first opportunity, three of Garcia’s men locate the North family at the amusement park.

The drive-by shooting takes out Chris and daughter Carly, but Riley survives. In spite of the trauma, the darkness, and her being shot, she’s able to identify the driver and two passengers in a line-up. She will have her day in court, but the three men are released. Garcia’s roots and corruption in the police, the FBI, and the justice system runs deep.

Riley will take things into her own hands. She disappears for five year to become a super-fighter. Against all odds, she will have her revenge on everybody associated with the murder. Killing all those people, including a crooked judge, makes her feel better, but none of that brings back her family.

Rated R for strong violence and language throughout.

Marilyn Robitaille writes film reviews for the Empire-Tribune and the Glen Rose Reporter.