By The Nerdling
I’m pretty sure the script for Peppermint was written in the 80’s with a male lead. I’m convinced STX wanted to prove they are on the good side of #MeToo. So, they dusted off an old script sitting in some box in a producer’s basement and thought, “let’s make the lead a woman and throw some references to social media in there and it will be all good! We will bring in the bucks and look progressive while we are at it.” Except this movie is anything but progressive.
Be warned, there are spoilers for Peppermint ahead!
Peppermint is a Death Wish throwback. Naive everyday person’s life is turned upside down by violence and the system fails to get justice. This time out, it is a wife and mother, Riley North, who watches as her husband and daughter are gunned down by an MS-13 like gang. She is also shot in the head, but survives with some trauma which magically turns her into a badass.
The North family was targeted after the husband considered throwing in with his shady friend to rip-off Diego Garcia, the big-name drug lord in LA. The husband quickly backs out of the planned heist, but it doesn’t matter. As one cop points out, the family was slaughtered because he dared to entertain the possibility of screwing over Garcia.
The cops already had an idea who it was and why. Riley easily identifies the three men who killed her family out of a line up. She willingly testifies in court. And the case is thrown out because the DA and the judge are in Garcia’s pocket. Cue the vigilante bat-signal. Throughout the course of the film, Riley single handedly takes down all of Garcia’s cartel, exposes the dirty cop helping the gang, and kills Garcia in front of the police and a swarm of news crews. She is then arrested and put under police custody at a hospital.
I call shenanigans on Peppermint. A white, middle class family is gunned down in public, in a nice neighborhood, and the whole of the U.S. don’t lose their collective minds?!?! CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News shut down and go into hyper-focus mode when a white woman goes missing. All three stations would be running the North’s family photographs 24/7, interviewing all of the relatives and friends, following every candlelight vigil, milking it all for all that it’s worth. Fox News would be blowing their racist dog whistle so loud, you could hear the white supremacists barking for miles around. If that case would have been thrown out like it was in the movie… Heads. Would. Roll.
Now, if the North family would have been Hispanic or African American, then this movie would have been much more believable. The big three 24-hour news networks wouldn’t give a damn and the injustice of it all would be chalked up to an overwhelmed system.
I know this is a movie and not a documentary, but the racist attitude of the action flick is only adding fuel a dangerous fire stoked by Trump and his supporters. The message Peppermint sends is one which reinforces this administration’s cries the justice system will not protect the good, white citizens of the America. That the bad, brown people are taking over with the help of traitors to the white race and the only way to fight it is to load up on military grade weapons and take the law into your own hands.
Peppermint emphasizes this propaganda when those Riley saves or people on social media call her a hero for going out there and doing what cops can’t. Even the detective who investigated the murder of Riley’s family and was assigned to track her down agrees she is a hero. The movie ends when he gives Riley a key to unlock her cuffs to continue her killing spree.
I don’t think Peppermint purposefully set out to be a dog whistle to the alt-right Nazi’s. I think the producers figured they would make a cool revenge flick and have a woman at the center not realizing how tone deaf the script was. That doesn’t make the sins any less severe.
The Nerdling was born in the majestic land known as Texas and currently resides there after several years of journeying through Middle Earth in a failed attempt to steal the one Ring from that annoying hobbit, serving the Galactic Empire for a time, and then a short stint as a crew member on the Serenity. Since moving back to her homeland, Nerdling flirted with a hero reputation. Saving children from the dangers of adoring domineering, sparkly vampires (champions with souls are the only vampires worth loving) and teaching normals the value of nerdom, all while rooting for her beloved Dallas Stars. Then came the Sokovia Accords and her short spell of saving others came to an end. With Darth Vader’s reputation rightfully returning to badass status, Nerdling is making her way back to the Empire. They do have cookies, you know. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.