‘The Mother’ Is a Generic Bloodbath Glaringly Devoid of Originality

This forgettable action thriller is thoroughly derivative. Somebody did everything Jennifer Lopez does in this rehashed cinematic gumbo first, in better movies than 'The Mother.'

Jennifer Lopez as The Mother and Lucy Paez as Zoe in ‘The Mother.’ Eric Milner/Netflix

They said she was a flash in the pan. That was 25 years ago, and Jennifer Lopez is still running in place. Most of her movies are one and the same, but some of them are surprisingly entertaining. The Mother is not one of those. It’s annoyingly lumpy, shockingly pedestrian, and instantly forgettable. Also disturbingly and relentlessly bloody, as New Zealand action director Niki Caro lovingly trains his camera on JLo as she shoots, stabs, breaks one of her victims’ windpipe and slashes another man’s throat to raw hamburger with her fist wrapped in barbed wire. Glaringly devoid of any originality whatsoever, it even includes a bloated sequence in which the star crashes down stone staircases of an ancient city the way James Bond always does. (This time the setting is Havana, and don’t ask what she’s doing there because they seem to be making it up as they go along.) JLo’s prey is always male. At the screening I attended, the women in the audience applauded with vigor every time another man ended up in the morgue, which says more about the times we live in than it does about one movie’s faults and shortcomings.

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THE MOTHER (1/4 stars)
Directed by: Niki Caro
Written by: Misha Green, Andrea Berloff, Peter Craig
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick, Gael García Bernal
Running time: 115 mins.

A generic bloodbath with all the cliches of a dozen action revenge thrillers boringly intact, The Mother is preposterous, violent and over the top as it showcases JLo as a curvaceous former military sniper forced into retirement by the gangsters she double-crossed a dozen years earlier, but don’t count that as a reason to applaud her feminine heroism. The threadbare plot reveals in her former life as a killer turned FBI informant she was little more than a basic sexpot who slept with assorted thugs and had a baby by one of them before turning him over to the feds. He stabbed her in her pregnant belly, but the baby somehow survived, only to be given up for adoption and placed in a government protection program. Now 12, the child is targeted by JLo’s old enemies as a pawn to lure “The Mother” (as JLo’s character is known) out of hiding and into the barrel sights of their AR-14s. So the chase begins, with Gael Garcia Bernal and Joseph Fiennes hopelessly miscast as psycho arms dealers stalking JLo and her kid all the way to Alaska where the whole thing ends predictably on snowmobiles.

Never mind that 007 did it first. Somebody did everything JLo does in this rehashed cinematic gumbo first, in better movies than The Mother.

Observer Reviews are regular assessments of new and noteworthy cinema.


‘The Mother’ Is a Generic Bloodbath Glaringly Devoid of Originality