There’s an admonition about not poking a bear – which means poking a mama bear whose mate and cub you’ve just killed might be a much worse idea.
After a corrupt judge and dirty cops fail her when her husband and daughter are killed in a drive-by shooting, Riley North takes five years to turn herself into a machine and sets out to avenge them.
Peppermint stars Jennifer Garner as Riley North and is directed by Pierre Morel (Taken). It opens on September 7th.
Garner and Morel talk about the film in the featurette below.
In baseball terms, Pierre Morel’s [Transporter 3, District B13] best pitch is the high, hard heater – the shoulder high fastball. His movies tend to start off with a bit of scene-setting and then shift into high gear for the rest of the ride. So it is with From Paris With Love – a movie filled with shootings, stabbings and stuff getting blowed up real good. If Joe Bob Briggs was still doing regular reviews, he’d give this three explosions out of five.
A retired spy’s daughter is kidnapped to be sold as a sex slave [the slightly skeevey part]. The ex-spy hunts the men who kidnapped her. As premises go, this one is simple, direct and a bit odd to find in a PG-13 film – but we are talking about a Luc Besson production, so maybe it’s not really a surprise.
What is a surprise is that Taken, co-written by Besson [Leon, The Professional and The Fifth Element] and Robert Mark Kamen [The Karate Kid, The Transporter], and directed by Pierre Morel [District B13], is better than the premise suggests. This mostly because it takes a bit of time to establish that our protagonist, Bryan Mills [Liam Neeson] has retired because he wants to reconnect with his daughter, Kim [Maggie Grace]. We believe him because we see how disappointed he is when her mother, Lenore [Famke Janssen] and step-father, Stuart [Xander Berkley] upstage him at her birthday party [he brings her an expensive karaoke machine, but Stuart gives her a horse].
When she and her mother persuade him to sign a waiver allowing Kim to go to Paris, his warnings of danger fall on deaf ears and – sure enough – she and her friend are kidnapped. Then comes the phone conversation we saw in the trailer – followed by Mills taking action. Although Neeson is not a small guy, he does a good job of making himself seem ordinary as he begins tracking down the kidnappers, but once he swings into action, he becomes a force of nature.
Morel keeps the action up front and his pacing builds as Mills works himself up the chain of command – starting with the spotter who set up Kim and her friend. The usual ingredients of a Besson production are here – fights, chases, explosions – but because we buy into Mills as a father, there is a little more gravity, a little more at stake than usual.
Taken is entertaining but, ultimately, reliant on one performance. If you buy Neeson as Mills, then you’ll enjoy the movie. If not, you won’t. I did.
Final Grade: B-