How often do we find action movies produced by Netflix to be generic? Yet the platform keeps giving us new such flicks. Netflix's latest action/thriller, The Mother starring Jennifer Lopez, is about an assassin who has to come out of hiding to protect a child in danger. It seems as if it can garner attention, but will the storytelling and execution do it justice?
In The Mother, Lopez plays an unnamed ex-FBI assassin who is now an informant. While pregnant, she is hunted down by ex-SAS soldier Adrian (Joseph Fiennes) and arms dealer Hector (Gael García Bernal). Soon after giving birth, she's convinced by the government to give up her infant daughter to a foster family to protect the child from bad guys. Twelve years later, and the bad guys are now fresh on the trail, forcing the mother to come out of hiding and do what she does best -- kill.
There are two story arcs in The Mother. The main plot is the action/spy side of things, and the subplot is about the reunion between a mother and her long-lost 12-year-old daughter Zoe, played by Lucy Paez, to add an emotional core to this film. Does the child know the assassin is her true mother? How is that relationship going to play out? As I got into the story, I found the subplot more interesting than the spy side, which is unfortunate because, after all, this is an action movie.
The actual espionage aspect of the movie is frankly generic and full of cliches. The movie didn't do a good job of building that side. The story in The Mother is jumbled and messy. There is a lot of jumping through the narrative in an effort to keep it advancing, but it leaves large holes in the arc when it comes to development and background. While there are many action sequences, from gun fights and explosions to a classic car chase, the overall experience feels empty and predictable. This film is directed by Niki Caro, whose previous movie Mulan (2020) flopped at the box office. While that film was criticised by many for lack of character development, it's actually worse here.
The design of each character in this movie felt cartoonish. They are generic and unrealistic, especially Lopez as the mother, who I'm not sure is a skilful assassin or a fashion model. She looks like an action hero with fur coats and perfect, pristine hair and make-up as if she just came straight from her Jenny From The Block music video. In fact, she looks exactly the same in this even if there is a 12-year gap between the movie and the video. There's nothing wrong with that if they want her character to be pretty, but at the same time, it creates disbelief.
Jennifer Lopez as the U.S. military operative, known as "the Mother" NETFLIX
From the beginning, we get some exposition and learn who she is, and more importantly, why she is the most dangerous assassin out there. We get flashbacks and someone comes in and says "she's the best of the best", with two tours and 46 kills. We are told how great her character is and I wanted to see why she should be feared. However, the movie does a poor job of making us feel this way about her. There is a ton of conveniences built into the story to allow the mother to move about and function within the plot unhindered. She can manoeuvre into locations unnoticed. In one instance, she just crouches down using a sniper rifle and there is no recoil when she shoots somebody.
Most enemies in this movie are cardboard characters that can be easily taken out. As an actor, Lopez's performance here is flat and her expression rarely changes, making her seem lifeless and dry. The main antagonists are also laughable. The script does a poor job of fleshing them out. There's no depth and their motivation makes zero sense. This level of character development is paper-thin and underwhelming. I wish they tapped more into the connection between mother and daughter instead of focusing on the fight with the bad guys or taking your daughter into the wild to show her how good you are with a knife and gun. It didn't make me excited at all.
With way too many flaws, a predictable plot, and generic and poorly developed villains, The Mother is an emotionless story and a waste of an action film. Unless you're a huge fan of J-Lo, I'd highly recommend skipping this one.
- The Mother
- Starring Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick
- Directed by Niki Caro
- Now streaming on Netflix