The Mother Review

Jennifer Lopez is a badass assassin protecting her daughter in this lean but well-made action-thriller.

Plot: A deadly female assassin comes out of hiding to protect the daughter that she gave up years before, while on the run from dangerous men.

Review: Since it was first announced over a year ago, I have been mildly intrigued by The Mother. With a mysterious plot featuring Jennifer Lopez as a vengeful parent, I expected this film to be a cookie-cutter action replica of John Wick and the myriad spin-offs and copycats it has spawned. Instead, this film benefits from having a gritty but realistic plot that is accentuated by bursts of violence. With a solid director and the burgeoning talent of writer Misha Green, The Mother is a solid throwback thriller that echoes the action flicks of the late 1990s. With some brutal violence and engaging character development, The Mother is a better offering than the hit-or-miss fare churned out by the Netflix machine.

The Mother,Netflix,Jennifer Lopez,Joseph Fiennes

The Mother starts out by introducing us to Rebecca (Jennifer Lopez). Under protection as an informant for the FBI, Rebecca is divulging information regarding arms dealer Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and criminal Hector Alvarez (Gael Garcia Bernal). The pregnant Rebecca is soon involved in a massacre where she almost loses her child. Given the choice to give up all parental rights and go into hiding, Rebecca relinquishes her daughter and moves to Alaska. Twelve years later, her former lovers come out of the woodwork and threaten harm against Rebecca’s daughter, Zoe (Lucy Paez). This forces Rebecca to channel her skills as a former soldier and trained killer to stop Adrian and Hector and protect her daughter.

The approach that director Niki Caro (Mulan) takes in helming The Mother is rooted in the stoic performance of Jennifer Lopez. While the singer has proven adept at drama and comedy, she is required to do a lot more physical work than we have seen before. Echoing her buff turn in Enough, Lopez looks nowhere near her age as she shoots, fights, and kicks ass in everything from fistfights to car chases. Lopez keeps her cool as Rebecca with limited emotional outbursts, which helps sell her brutal dispatching of helmeted mercenaries and thugs in her path. There is a lot of blood in The Mother and some surprisingly gory kills that had me watching to see how violent this movie would get. Earning its R rating, The Mother never pulls any punches but never goes so far over the line that it borders on disgusting.

The cast is relatively small, which allows the development of the plot to remain lean and allows us to invest in caring about Rebecca and Zoe. Omari Hardwick is good as FBI agent William Cruise who keeps Rebecca in the loop about her daughter. Joseph Fiennes and Gael Garcia Bernal are good as the villains, with Bernal’s performance looser and a bit more manic as compared to Fiennes’s more restrained and Bond-esque bad guy. Both are men of few words and have a handful of key scenes. Oscar nominee Paul Raci delivers a small but pivotal performance as Rebecca’s friend Jons. Most of the screen time is shared between Lopez and Lucy Paez in training sequences that connect the mother to her daughter and bridge the lost years they did not spend together. Paez does a great job of playing the traumatized teen while Lopez vacillates between her maternal instincts to spend time with her child and teaching her how to protect herself.

Misha Green’s story, written by Green with Andrea Berloff (Straight Outta Compton) and Peter Craig (The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick), is surprisingly full of emotional depth for the main character. Jennifer Lopez gets to say more with her face and brief lines of dialogue, but so much more is conveyed in the film’s tone. Yes, there is a lot of action, but the quieter moments in between are far more resonant than I expected. Niki Caro has not explored much action outside of her big-budget Disney film. Still, The Mother reminded me quite a bit of Whale Rider in how it captures the wilderness and natural elements at play in the film, along with the primal need for a mother to protect her young. You have a solid movie with Ben Seresin’s solid cinematography and a score by Germaine Franco.

The Mother,Netflix,Jennifer Lopez,Joseph Fiennes

The biggest shortcoming in watching The Mother may be its lack of anything original in the story. This is a familiar tale that we have seen in movies and on television many times, but we don’t seem to get much of it anymore these days, at least not with a star as big as Jennifer Lopez. Had this film been released a decade ago, it would have been a solid hit. Like most Netflix movies, The Mother feels about half an hour too long. Maybe it is the repetitive middle or the structure of the movie, but it feels like it could have been paced more quickly and amped up the energy a little bit. Regardless, I enjoyed watching this and would not be opposed to seeing Jennifer Lopez take on more roles like The Mother.

The Mother



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About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.