Jennifer Garner may get recognized on the street for movies like 13 Going on 30, but we love her the most for playing Sydney Bristow on six seasons of Alias. Those years, from 2000 to 2006, were great for the image of Garner as a capable, take-no-prisoners character, and they helped define the first stage of her career.
Now Garner is getting back into action in Peppermint, opening on September 7. The simple plot is all we need: the actress plays a woman out for revenge after her family is killed. (She’s basically the Punisher, or John Wick.) With Pierre Morel, the director of Taken at the helm, we know Peppermint will deliver when Garner’s character says “I want justice.”
Imagine waking from a coma to discover your life has been completely destroyed. That’s what happens to Garner’s character, Riley North. Her husband and daughter are killed in a criminal attack, and the event leaves Riley in a coma. When she wakes she’s confronted with the deepest loss anyone could experience.
Things get worse from there. The killers are still on the loose, and judging by the level of corruption around Riley, there’s someone powerful who doesn’t want the case solved, much less prosecuted. Her mantra is basically “what would Bruce Wayne do?” So she takes off for a few years, trains up, and returns home as a cold-blooded vigilante.
The movie really kicks into gear as Riley returns to her old stomping grounds, and that action is a good metaphor for Jennifer Garner’s return to the sort of role that originally pushed her career into the stratosphere.
The whole point of Peppermint is to see Garner get back to the material that helped make her a star in the first place. She’s a great actress regardless of genre, but Garner’s physicality and expressiveness make her incredibly good at crafting characters like Sydney Bristow, and Riley North.
Of course, in the middle of her run on Alias, Garner also played Elektra in the 2003 Daredevil, and 2005’s offshoot Elektra. Both those movies had a lot of problems, which weren’t specifically tied to her, but there’s no question that Garner’s career in action and espionage suffered as a result. We know Hollywood works that way, especially since Elektra was one of the often-cited reasons that women couldn’t lead a superhero movie. That doesn’t make it fair.
So Peppermint is a chance to alter the parameters of Garner’s career. That being the case, Pierre Morel, who helped redefine Liam Neeson’s career with Taken, is a great choice to direct this revenge thriller. He knows how to keep a thriller lean and mean, and how to craft an image that hits as hard as a punch to the face. The trailer’s image of three guys hanging from a Ferris wheel is weirdly powerful and suggests that this movie won’t shy away from showing how angry Garner’s character really is.
The greatest revenge is success, and while we have a pretty good idea of how the film’s depiction of “justice” will go for Riley North, we’re most interested in Garner’s success. The last few years have seen her back on the big screen more regularly. Between this year’s Love, Simon and Peppermint, Garner’s film future could be powerful.
Peppermint comes to theaters on September 7.