The Mother REVIEW – A Decent Action Flick

Jennifer Lopez is an action star.

The Mother
The Mother

Since it’s Mother’s Day weekend, of course we need to have a movie about being a mom. Jennifer Lopez’ new movie The Mother – with a title that’s rather on the nose – attempts to bring a different kind of mother to the screen. Lopez plays Mother, a former sniper who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and subsequently got involved with some dangerous criminals. After she finds out she’s pregnant, she betrays her lovers and sells them out to the FBI in order to protect her child. But Adrian (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector (Gael Garcia Bernal) won’t let her go, so she’s forced to give her daughter up to guarantee her safety.

12 years later, she’s called to action by FBI agent William Cruise (Omari Hardwick), who has been keeping an eye on her daughter Zoe (Lucy Paez) all these years. Both Hector and Adrian have discovered that Zoe is still alive, and want to use her as bait to draw Mother out.

Lopez is great in the role. Some might feel that she’s too stoic and doesn’t emote enough, but she plays a woman that’s a ruthless, killing machine and has trained for years to keep her emotion out of things. Because she appears so cold and indifferent, it hits harder for the viewer when she does let the emotion get to her. Lopez is always compelling to watch on screen, regardless of the material, and it’s no different here.

Lopez and Hardwick also have palpable chemistry together, and you sense the connection the characters have forged over the years, even though they only have a handful of scenes together. Fiennes and Bernal are both equally menacing, and flesh out their villainy in contrasting ways. Adrian is absolutely merciless, and does things that would shock even the most desensitized viewer, while Hector seems to burn with torment, driven mad by his love for Mother and her betrayal of everything they’ve worked for. Both are proof of how much charisma seasoned actors can bring to a film, even one with a less than desirable screenplay.

The best part about the film are its action sequences. They are well-shot, dynamic, and offer proper stakes. A lot of contemporary action movies fail to incorporate jeopardy into the action sequences, so what ensues is very bland and uninvolving. Thankfully, The Mother doesn’t fall into that trap, and we get well-choreographed action set pieces in various locations.

Ironically, the weakest part of the film is actually the moments between Mother and Zoe. Mother doesn’t know how to be warm and nurturing, so she shows her love for Zoe the only way she knows how, by teaching her how to defend herself. The film meanders at this point, and all the previous tension is lost until we build back up again to the final confrontation.

I like the smaller scale of the film, especially since the locations are used to good effect. While there are some odd stylistic choices, like shots with blurred edges, the movie compensates visually in other ways. We move from the heat of Cuba, to the cold, wintery landscape of Alaska, and director Niki Caro does well in capturing the vibe and atmosphere of each setting.

The screenplay may be generic, and relies heavily on action movie cliches – such as the ineffectiveness of the police – however, the cast and Lopez makes The Mother worth a watch.

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The Mother
Jennifer Lopez proves that she can handle any genre: from rom-coms to action movies, she can do it all. The Mother becomes highly watchable because of her efforts.