Netflix is clearly a fan of star driven actioners with recent films like Interceptor, Blackout, Sweet Girl, and Day Shift. The newest, simply titled The Mother stars Jennifer Lopez this time not as a bride-to-be, but as an assassin who comes out of hiding to protect her estranged daughter from dangerous criminals who are seeking her out in order to lure Lopez into the open. It’s a basic, straightforward plot structure and for its duration, The Mother sticks to the tropes beat-by-beat.
Now don’t get me wrong, The Mother isn’t all bad. To the credit of Lopez, she completely brings the effort in the action department so when the game of cat-and-mouse between Lopez and her assailants is at full speed the injection of violence and killing does escalate the energy nicely. When Lopez is wielding weapons, dismantling bad guys, and kicking ass, the rage she displays feels surprisingly credible and there are a couple delightfully brutal deaths.
The problem is the story surrounding her doesn’t bring anything close to the same level of ambition. This results in a narrative that feels more often borrowed, with surface level emotions, and predictable plot beats. Every turn of the story is telegraphed. Continuity is skewed for convenience and the relationships between the characters feel contrived. The Mother is really a movie that should’ve been released in the late 80’s when story conveniences, plot holes, and blatantly predictable turns were more cinematically acceptable.
Now these are all things that wouldn’t normally be a deal breaker when these movies during that era often ran to a tight 85 to 90-minutes. The Mother clocks in at just under two hours and there is still an abundance of exposition and a few glaring plot holes. So, it takes much longer than needed to tell this story. Making the pace feel frequently sluggish, particularly in the middle-act when Lopez and Paez explore their mother daughter dynamic with little to no chemistry.
The performances here are fine, but none are able to elevate the bland material. The Mother is nicely directed. The final act out in the snowy wilderness is visually appealing despite how procedural the material is to watch. This one didn’t necessarily need to break the mold because to be honest this is a plot built for retelling. When the right pieces are plugged in.
The Mother unfortunately plugs in more pieces from other similar films than crafting its own fresh story layers. Its mindless entertainment given everything you need to know is explained. However, with what Lopez brought to the physicality of this character, the artificial film wrapped around her is a letdown for anyone who has seen more than a handful of action movies.
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Lucy Paez, Omari Hardwick, Joseph Fiennes, Gael Garcia Bernal, Paul Raci, Edie Falco, Jesse Garcia, Yvonne Senat Jones Director: Niki Caro Writer(s): Misha Green, Andrea Berloff, Peter Craig Distributor: Netflix Running Time: 115 minutes Rating: R (Violence, language, and brief drug use) Year: 2023 Language: English Genre: Action/Thriller
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis. All Rights Reserved.