The Mother

The Mother
The Mother
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Without a flood of action movies hitting streaming services and cinemas across the United States, it wouldn’t feel like summer. Netflix is kicking off its summer releases this year with The Mother. In this movie, Jennifer Lopez plays The Mother — though it has several other actors in smaller supporting roles including Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick, Gael García Bernal, and Paul Raci.

Directed by Niki Caro, who last directed Disney’s live-action adaptation of Mulan in 2020, The Mother was written by Peter Craig, Andrea Berloff, and Misha Green. It wants to be another entry into the female revenge story canon and falls woefully short. Officially announced in 2021 for Netflix distribution with Caro attached as director and Lopez as the lead actor, filming began months later. It was slated for release in May 2023 but faced some hiccups along the way — COVID-19 shut down production with new variants popping up in 2022.

The Mother takes place all over the United States — remote regions of Alaska and a tiny series of scenes set in Cuba — but it is still disappointingly safe when it comes to what stories can be told with female vengeance falling within those very well-known genres.

Jennifer Lopez stars as a character who simply goes by “The Mother.” In the opening scene, she sits down at a suburban house to become an FBI informant about Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector Alvarez (Gael García Bernal), whom she made an arms deal with in her past life. After one of the agents blows off her concern about them tailing her instead of tracking their suspects’ locations directly, they get shot down one by one while showering at her house; Adrian corners The Mother in that same shower and she’s revealed to be pregnant when he stabs her once. She survives the fire that engulfs the house by turning on the showerhead and lying under it in the water.

But when she gives birth to a baby girl in the hospital, her daughter is taken away by the FBI. They think that because The Mother is a target to Adrian and Hector, she’ll have a better life without her mom. She leaves one ask with William Cruise (Omari Hardwick), the agent who survived the ambush: she wants her daughter to have a boring, stable life, and she wants a card for every birthday that passes. After seeing her daughter one last time at a playground while living in Alaska, The Mother moves up there and years fly by until — but when — a letter arrives in the mail that’s not a birthday card?

She returns back to the mainland and William tells her that after a bust Hector’s men had a picture of Zoe with them. For the first time since she was a baby, The Mother sees her daughter in real life at her school but this distant reunion isn’t meant to last–because while she watches from a distance with binoculars and a gun, helpless as she watches a man grab her daughter and put her in the back of a van.

This kicks off another adventure that will take The Mother and William to Cuba, where she must confront her literal demons. When she does meet her daughter, though, it creates a whole new set of problems because neither of them is ready to face the reality or trauma that comes with being ripped from your parent figure/daughter at birth. At the same time though, The Mother still has to pay for what she’s done because those men who used to work for want revenge.

If there’s one thing about The Mother I can tell you without spoiling anything is that it feels like an authentic female character story. In most Assassin movies women are either delegated towards classic tropes or overly sexualized to fit into some category that they think men like watching but Caro’s direction feels humane like Lopez is really just playing somebody who would do anything for their kid and happens to be good at killing people too. She might not always be nice about it or use proper etiquette when murdering folks but so what? She’s on a mission dammit! And no man should ever get in between those two things especially when said dude has already tried his hardest Once again a lot of moms can relate

However, the plot line itself follows very predictable beats throughout its runtime which many have seen happen over again in similar other films before such as ‘The Villainess’ directed by Jung Byung-il which was also inspired heavily by La Femme Nikita so on so forth lots have dealt with pissed off ladies whose only reason being so mad is because they birthed a daughter. This movie does nothing different except show some fighting scenes that were cool while not adding any more meat onto the bones of an otherwise boring script.

By giving The Mother a name, it takes away from the core aspect of her motivations which is simply wanting to get back with her little girl. The way she cares for her isn’t typically seen in cinema or on TV but she still nevertheless loves and would do anything for Zoe. No matter how many times this film tries conveniently flashing back just before revealing another part of its own history all we’re ever left with at the end are mothers who resort to using tactics/violence they know best when the need arises again

The flashbacks try to create emotional tension and a payoff that makes us care about The Mother more but by the end of the movie, it fails. The reasoning behind the villains’ narrative arcs is flimsy at times, and they don’t get a moment to shine. Some are explained through these flashbacks while others are left hanging, only existing when they are convenient for the storyline. Convenience seems to be a recurring theme throughout what pops up in the film over its two-hour runtime, especially as the bad guys come closing in for their final sweep and celebratory champagne.

Jennifer Lopez is the glue holding this movie together and she does what she sets out to do. She exudes charisma on screen and becomes the character, whether she’s in the snowy fields of Alaska or trying to take down one of the ghosts of her past in Cuba. Her chemistry with her daughter is supposed to be uneven because when they meet each other for the first time there’s obvious tension since they weren’t in each other’s lives up until this point. For the majority of the film, Lopez wears a stoic face which could easily anger other characters but it makes sense why she is how she is.

Acting overall was one of its biggest characteristics because although quite a few characters were hollow and archaic, actors managed decently portray them . But there’s only so much acting can do for a script that needs work, and ultimately action isn’t enough to motivate genre fans. There isn’t anything special about how things end up going down, some largest fights in the movie were fairly anti-climactic with how they unfolded. Even moments that were meant to surprise us, revealing plot points crucial going forward seemed to happen like deep sighs.

While the world needs to see more women depicted realistically in action films, The Mother doesn’t provide a captivating experience. It was predictable from the very beginning, some nice shots scattered throughout the cinematography department with questionable decisions made during the editing the final cut might have been. Perhaps in another universe, if different decisions were made with The Mother it could have been a movie that broke free of genre restraints and molds but in this universe, The Mother manages to become an action movie with characters, plots, and visuals audiences probably already know very well.

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