“A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path.” - Agatha Christie
It’s movies like this that I have to remind myself that I should at least try to leave my biases at the door, so to speak. No one is forcing what I can and can’t say here so I can be as unfair as I choose to be but then that makes this whole thing feel like a waste of time. To clarify, I’m talking about Jennifer Lopez. Is she gorgeous? Absolutely. Can she act? She has her moments. Do I like any of her movies with her as the lead? A single solitary one? I can sit through Enough. That’s kind of it. So what am I to expect when yet another random release pops up starring Jenny from the Block? But again, for anyone that might respect my opinion and hopes I’m going to give a fair review of something I feel responsible for the unbiased approach. I guess I’m just saying it’s hard when you really can’t think of a single role she’s completely nailed. And yes I remember Hustlers. If she keeps her clothing on in that one does anyone remember it? I have my doubts. But I digress. Right… the review.
The Mother is about a pregnant assassin on the run from the potential fathers, two extremely dangerous men, when they decide they want to take the baby from her for nefarious reasons. Making the hardest decision of her life, the assassin, known only as the mother, relinquishes custody of her newborn daughter in hopes of protecting her. In the twelve years that follow she hides in a rural cabin in Alaska with only yearly updates about her now estranged daughter who knows nothing of her biological parents.
And for those twelve years all is quiet. Her connection to the outside world is an agent she once saved who helps protect the assassin’s progeny. His only instructions are to send a new picture each year on the young girl’s birthday and to notify her if any threats come about involving her only child. As expected the daughter is discovered by the enemies of the assassin and information has leaked about an impending kidnapping attempt. Mother activated.
Certain action movies give certain groups their time in the sun. It’s the movie they can look upon with fondness even if nothing about it is accurate to the real people it’s depicting. Top Gun gives aviators everywhere their moment in the sky. Yellowstone, a television series, highlights the highs and lows of being a cowboy in the modern age. Black Hawk Down isn’t a glorification of war but rather a remembrance of those brave enough to take on such burdens in the hopes of protecting their homeland.
Taken gave fathers around the world their moment. It indirectly asked them what would you (want to) do if your child was kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. It was a vicarious fantasy about using men’s nonexistent skills with hand-to-hand combat and weaponry to eviscerate the enemy and bring the child home. Now, we have The Mother.
My biases aside, but if I’m honest still very much in the vicinity, I went in expecting a droning, idiotic, half-assed actioner starring the movie’s producer. In other words, Jenny wanted to make an action movie and the joke has been made ad nauseam about Netflix greenlighting anything and everything under the yellow sun. This is my long winded way of saying expectations for this movie couldn’t have been lower. So it could only go up. And for the most part it does. Thankfully.
Its greatest weakness is inconsistency of tone. On one hand it has moments that are grimy and brutal. And then there are moments where she’s flying through the air and shooting at the same time and her accuracy is impeccable. It has human moments drowned out by sillier scenes showcasing the mother as some kind of superhuman. It’s an imbalance of Jason Bourne and John Wick.
What I thought would be another case of Queen Latifah casting in The Equalizer (I still can’t believe that’s a real show in real life.) Jennifer Lopez manages to create something believable, enough. The beautiful assassin is a Hollyweird trope as old as movies themselves so I can’t fault it for that. Still, it’s a bit tired. Nothing egregious though. They avoided the most ridiculous aspect of female led assassin movies and that is the woman’s ability to overpower every man she faces. Call me sexist all you want, nine times out of ten the man is going to be stronger. The Mother, intentional or not, forgoes such implausibility by making her strengths in weaponry, particularly an efficiency with rifles as a sniper. It showcases her training received in the military and in the interim between giving up her child and being forced to protect her twelve years later it shows her honing her skills with a rifle. By the time she encounters her enemies it has, to the best of its abilities, led us to believe she is more than capable.
The Mother is perfectly fine but it’s also completely average at best. It does nothing to stand out as something beyond the bland, vengeful assassin storyline. Its greatest achievement is avoiding the worst tropes that plague the genre, most of them anyway. Lopez is the best part of the movie surprisingly and does just enough to make this something worth the watch, if only once. It will be forgotten before the year’s end. The Mother is as advertised and nothing more. If that’s okay with you maybe check it out on Netflix. Or don’t. The world will continue to spin either way. (Kill Bill did it better in every conceivable way.)
Rated R For: violence, some language and brief drug use
Runtime: 115 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Action, Thriller
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick, Joseph Fiennes
Directed By: Niki Caro
Out of 10
Story: 6/ Acting: 7/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 6
OVERALL: 6.5 / 10
Buy to Own: Streaming on Netflix, May 12, 2023.
Check out the trailer below: