Film Review: The Mother (dir by Niki Caro)

Jennifer Lopez is …. THE MOTHER!

The Mother is a professional assassin, a former U.S. military operative who has spent the last 12 years isolated in Alaska, hiding out from two of her former associates, drug lord Hector Alvarez (Gael Garcia Bernal) and mercenary Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes).  In the past, The Mother went to the FBI when she discovered that Alvarez and Lovell were involved in human trafficking.  Lovell reacted by killing a bunch of FBI agent and attempting to kill The Mother’s unborn child by stabbing The Mother in the belly.  (I actually gasped in shock at this act of violence.)  Both The Mother and her daughter, Zoe, survived.

The Mother left her daughter to be raised by an FBI agent named William Cruise (Omari Hardwick).  But, twelve years later, Zoe (Lucy Paez) is kidnapped and The Mother has to come out of hiding to rescue her.  It’s a mission that will lead The Mother and Cruise to Cuba and which will eventually bring Lovell and his men back to Alaska.  Along the way, The Mother learns how to forgive herself and to how to open up emotionally and Zoe learns why her mother abandoned her so many years ago.  Zoe also learns that nature can be ruthless and unforgiving.

The Mother isn’t really a bad film as much as it’s just a very predictable film.  It’s very much from the Taken school of cinematic action, with a parent doing whatever is necessary to protect their children.  This is another one of those films where everyone tends to be very grim and there’s a lot of scenes of people coldly threatening each other.  The film opens with the FBI interrogating The Mother and the dialogue was so familiar and the attitudes so reminiscent of every single action film and television show that I’ve seen recently that I had to take a few minutes to remember which film I was watching.  Even The Mother’s eventual trip to snowy Alaska caused me to have flashbacks to both Those Who Wish Me Dead and the recent Dexter revival.  Oddly enough, it also reminded me of Sound of Metal, if just because The Mother‘s one friend in Alaska was played by Paul Raci.  It was nice to see Raci again.  With his haunted eyes and his kindly voice, he’s the type of guardian angel that everyone would want to have.  But again, it just all felt so familiar.

Jennifer Lopez gives a convincing performance as The Mother.  Though the film may be predictable, her commitment to protecting her daughter no matter what was undeniably moving and she and Lucy Paez has a believable mother/daughter relationship.  That said, Jennifer Lopez is always at her best when she’s allowed to play a character with a sense of playfulness and there’s little of that to be found in The Mother.  It’s a grim film about serious characters and it hits all of the expected beats with efficiency but not much more.  When it comes to 2023 Jennifer Lopez films, I still prefer the appealingly silly Shotgun Wedding.

One response to “Film Review: The Mother (dir by Niki Caro)

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 5/8/23 — 5/14/23 | Through the Shattered Lens

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