“The Mother,” a bland action film starring Jennifer Lopez, is most fascinating in its unexplored parts. She’s a mother and an assassin. OK, I guess.
In 2017, once “Wonder Woman” premiered, Misha Green’s script was in demand. “Female empowerment” headlines lauded it. With Niki Caro directing and Lopez starring and producing, Netflix greenlit and budgeted it. The completed film credits Peter Craig and Andrea Berloff for the writing.
But Mother’s Day rollouts have a bad track record. Studios dump substandard women-centered stuff over the greeting card holiday. If the movies were better, they may not require the dumb hook. Mothers Day! A lady doing…something!
“The Mother” is a self-serious, fairly generic action picture that strives to be many things.
Lopez’s talents are reminiscent of Jason Bourne, James Bond, John Wick, and Nikita. She’s great.
After her military duty, she becomes a Guantanamo guard and is involved with Adrian (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector (Gael García Bernal), two gorgeous arms traffickers. In a brief prologue, she gives birth and gives away the baby before touching her.
For everyone’s protection, she only wants the youngster to be put in the most boring, stable family and that FBI Agent Cruise (Omari Hardwick) provides birthday updates.
Who the father is and whether this pregnancy was intended or wanted are “Mamma Mia” mysteries. Theory-wise, this is fascinating. The movie begins 12 years later when Mother hears that her daughter, Zoe, is in danger. She returns as a superhuman spy/assassin/one-woman army from her gorgeous Alaska retirement.
Mother initially denies her motherhood to Zoe (Lucy Paez), whose foster parents are as well-developed as a cell phone commercial pair. This is supposed to be a big emotional journey for Mother and Zoe and the audience, but this movie never really convinces you to care about this relationship
which is odd because I’ve felt invested in other random pairings of adult assassins and non-blood relation children in movies. “The Mother” relies on Paul Raci (great to see him again) to sell a crucial relationship.
Lopez is an athletic and capable action hero, perhaps too capable, but so are most guys. This is much more serious than “Shotgun Wedding,” and Caro and her filmmaking team capture Lopez in all her glory,
whether walking through the Alaskan snow framed by a fur hood, jumping out of multi-story parking garages and sliding over cars in a chase, or dancing with Fiennes in a body-hugging dress. It’s a greater big-budget showcase for Caro than “Mulan” was.
Lopez and her closest colleagues have been finding fascinating projects for her, unfazed by Hollywood or cultural expectations for a lady in her 50s. Romantic comedies and action films are welcome. Wish the movies were as ambitious.
The Motion Picture Association classified Netflix’s Friday release “The Mother” R for “violence, some language and brief drug use.” 115-minute runtime. Two stars.