I love any month when we do what we want on the blog–which to be honest, is every month. This time around, doubly so. It’s free for all month, so be prepared for a series of film selections connected only by our unpredictable impulses. First up is a film that makes me glad my impulses typically involve watching bad movies and eating cheese rather than going on murderous rampages.
After witnessing the murder of her family, a woman seeks vengeance against the drug cartel responsible.
Present day: a badass Riley North fights with and ultimately kills a gang member in his own car, leaving him for police to find. She asks before he dies if he remembers her…
Flashback to Riley’s happy home life 5 years before. Riley is a busy mom working full-time and trying to dodge her passive-aggressive neighbor. After no one comes to her daughter Carly’s birthday party, the family goes out for pizza and fun at the local carnival. Seem like a fun night out, eh?
What Riley doesn’t know is her husband Chris has been exploring alternative sources of income, including serving as a getaway driver for the robbery of Mexican drug lord García. Having discovered that Chris is considering messing with García, a hit is put out on him…a hit that is carried out at the carnival. In a matter of moments, Riley has lost her family and suffered a serious gunshot wound to the head.
Upon waking from a coma, Riley is able to identify the perpetrators of this crime, but Diego “Guillotina” García’s influence prevents any consequences for his crew. Having bought the judge, district attorney, and some of the police force, García ensures the killers go free. Riley, understandably distraught, loses it in the courthouse and is remanded to psychiatric care. After managing to escape custody, Riley disappears…for 5 years anyway.
5 YEARS LATER…
Mysteriously, those involved with the murder of Riley’s family and the sham trial have all shown up dead. It would appear Riley has used the past few years productively, accumulating identities and becoming skilled in hand-to-hand combat, weaponry, and explosives.
As García’s cartel puts a price on Riley’s head, the police attempt to find her and bring her into custody. Riley seems to be taking out the gang one by one, first taking out a PIÑATA STORE that serves as a front for the operation. SERIOUSLY.
Next stop: giant secret warehouse full of drugs. Will Riley have the chance to complete her vengeance or will the cops get there first?
1/5 Pink Panther Heads
I don’t know what to say except I hated this. Jennifer Garner is pretty badass taken at face value, but it’s problematic AF that 95% of the people she’s killing are Mexican-American. She even hangs the corpses of the 3 gang members responsible for her family’s deaths from a Ferris wheel, as if no one who made this film had any clue about the racist tradition of displaying the bodies of victimized black and brown people?!?!?! This film just feels like one giant hate crime.
In addition to all of the racist stereotypes this film employs, it’s also just a badly set up revenge film. I watched Riley see her entire family murdered and felt no pity for her. There’s also a weird impersonality to the murders, so it’s difficult to get any sense of satisfaction as Riley seeks vengeance–it’s definitely horrific that Chris and Carly died so senselessly. Yet drug cartels senselessly kill many other, ahem, non-white people all the time. It’s not a great look that Riley’s entire family is murdered and she still doesn’t care a whole lot about other victims of gang violence.
Add to this that the entire dialogue of this film is a bunch of police drama clichés put together, and it’s downright painful. This is a film that’s much more vanilla than peppermint.