The new Jennifer Lopez action film, The Mother, is now streaming, but should you give it a watch?
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Even if you are a nameless trained assassin who abandoned your child at the government’s insistence! Sorry. Too specific?
Playing with the theme of the weekend, Netflix has released The Mother, a new action thriller starring Jennifer Lopez as a former special forces sniper who finds herself fleeing dangerous men from her past after informing on them to the FBI.
Pregnant with a child conceived by one of these dangerous men, the character only known as The Mother is forced to give up her baby & go into hiding in the Alaskan wilderness. After 12 years, The Mother is brought back into her daughter’s life as she is kidnapped by the top lieutenants of notorious gun smuggler & potential biological father Hector Alvarez, played in borderline disgusting fashion by Gael Garcia Bernal (Old, Y Tu Mama Tambien).
In what feels like a Frankenstein creation of a script from several attempts at rewrites, The Mother’s biggest weakness is on the page; particularly, the backstory of the central character and the paper-thin and incredibly boring cliches for villains.
As we are thrust into the world of The Mother, we, as the audience, want to join in on the fight to protect her & her child from the heinous criminals from her past. However, about 40 minutes into the film, The Mother explains how she came to know Hector Alvarez & other potential father to her child Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes).
She met Lovell in Afghanistan as he was a former SAS agent training her sniper unit. He attempted to recruit her to sell weapons and “off-menu” items to any of the rich and powerful men in the region. She found his offer appealing as she thought the best she could do after the service was to be the best cashier at a retail store. So even though she was the top sniper in her unit with nearly 50 confirmed kills, she thought that she had no other compelling options other than arms dealing (or worse!) to anyone with money. She eventually does some brokering of her own as she brings together Alvarez’s large supply of smuggled guns to Lovell in order to cash in and retire. The Mother only grows a conscience when she stumbles upon a crate of children being trafficked as part of the arrangement struck by her two lovers and business associates.
THIS IS THE CHARACTER YOU ARE BUILDING YOUR STORY UPON?
While the daughter is innocent, The Mother is a morally bankrupt and opportunistic killer who decided she had one line that she wouldn’t cross while pregnant with a baby that came from one of TWO morally bankrupt and opportunistic men. This is a tall order for the audience to proceed within a redemption story that only decides to focus on the potential of a reunification with her daughter and not whether she deserves it.
While the script and the lead character’s motivations and moral compass are very suspect, I find it hard to blame the movie’s lack of success on lead actress Jennifer Lopez. Known for her incredible work ethic, Lopez seemed to put the fullest extent of her abilities into this project despite not truly being the lead of something with this many action set pieces in her previous work. She is believable in her character’s skill set and does some of her better work in the film opposite Lucy Paez as her daughter Zoe where they bond slowly over several survivalist training sessions. I would not be shocked if this could be one of many action films for Lopez in the next 5 years as she always keeps in impressive shape and seems to have the tools to manage the more intensive workload.
Power star Omari Hardwick, Emmy-winning The Sopranos star Edie Falco, and recent Oscar-Nominee Paul Raci (Sound of Metal) did the best they could with minimal screen time and weak dialogue, but unfortunately, the best casted movies can be sunk by a wayward script. The only performances I can’t seem to understand are that of the two villains played by Gael Garcia Bernal & Joseph Fiennes who ranged from cringy to bored as their characters didn’t have much to work with before the cameras rolled.
Director Niki Caro, who started her career incredibly well with the critical success of 2002’s Whale Rider and 2005’s North Country, seemed to also struggle to keep this story on the tracks despite her best efforts. Some of the fight choreography was rough and some of the edits seemed rushed, but there are several instances in the film, especially in the Alaska scenes, where she does a solid job connecting performance with gorgeous backdrops and well-staged animal work.
Overall, The Mother would be a complete disaster if the talent in front of the camera and behind didn’t put enough effort to manage something barely watchable. Lopez will survive this and should look for more action vehicles in the future, but the screenwriters might need to do some soul searching after this one.
Watch The Mother If You Like
- The Old Guard
MVP of Netflix’s The Mother
Jennifer Lopez as The Mother.
Despite not getting much help from the script, Lopez seemed to tackle this project head-on and put in a great effort for her action film future. Much like Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, and many other talented awards-level actresses before her, Lopez seems to have the technical and physical gifts for action set pieces to accompany her dramatic abilities that can shine in the right project (I.E., Selena, Hustlers, Out of Sight).
Therefore, the upcoming Netflix Original movie Atlas is now high up on our radar.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP?
While I gave STRONG consideration for a “Stop” on this one, I think there are just enough positive takeaways that work in the face of a sometimes brutal piece of writing. J-Lo fans have been through worse and still persist.
Did you enjoy The Mother on Netflix? Let us know in the comments.