‘The Mother’ Can’t Deliver On The Action It Promises – Review
Jennifer Lopez can do it all. She’s starred in wonderful comedies throughout the course of her career, has come very close to an Academy Award, and now is back to prove that she can do whatever she sets her mind to, like be an action star.
Sadly, there’s something about The Mother, Netflix’s latest dramatic adventure about a woman protecting her child, that simply doesn’t result in engaging thrills. There are plenty of car chases, shooting, hand-to-hand combat, shocking deaths, and knife play to make any Bourne entry jealous, but the sentiment and style behind the action aren’t enough to allow this story to take off.
It all begins when Lopez’s protagonist finds herself involved in a big criminal conspiracy, trapped between Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector Álvarez (Gael García Bernal). She establishes relationships with them, though her motives are unclear. At some point she turns, intending to sabotage their schemes. The plan would eventually backfire for her, leaving her at the mercy of two powerful criminals with plenty of goons. In the opening, the main character is working with the FBI to get rid of the criminals, and it is revealed that she is pregnant, making her even more vulnerable than she already was.
Due to the perilous circumstances surrounding the birth of the child, the protagonist is forced to leave her in a witness protection program, having to watch her daughter growing up from a distance, going through major milestones without knowing that her biological mother is out there, hoping to hug her some day. Twelve years after the baby was born, the criminal organizations led by the two men the protagonist was involved with start making moves, and Lopez’s heroine must step in to prevent a now older Zoe (Lucy Paez) from being hurt. But before she can handle the situation in a manner she’s comfortable with, the child is kidnapped, setting the stage for the quest that would lead the rest of the plot.
Even in the first sequences, when the titular Mother is introduced, the execution of The Mother can’t seem to reach the standards it desires, losing itself in the middle of pointless conversations about weapon specifics and a dull environment that lacks the impending sense of danger needed in action stories. The script does an excellent job of quickly getting the audience up to speed with the context of the character’s backstory, not wasting time explaining how everyone met from the start. But that doesn’t justify the lack of spark Netflix’s latest attempt at a blockbuster franchise wears like a banner.
Niki Caro made a splash when she worked on the live-action remake of Disney’s Mulan a couple of years ago, displaying her skills in open-field battles and intimate hand-to-hand comeback. And, while her experience with action seems to come to life during glimpses of brilliance in The Mother, it’s not enough to save the movie from a disappointing monotony, burying itself in a vast catalogue of possible action franchises for the streamer that never really took off the ground. Hiring celebrities to say repetitive lines while holding a gun in front of concrete walls won’t be enough to capture an audience’s heart. Emotion and sincerity are needed to keep people coming time and time again for similar explosive stories.
With a determined performance from Jennifer Lopez that can’t seem to transcend the world the character inhabits, a medium-sized budget and an unfocused narrative, The Mother attempts to place itself as one of the most attractive action offerings of the year while failing to do so. Very talented people have been attached to plenty of high-profile adventures, but as proven before, that’s not enough to guarantee anything for Netflix. The Mother is no exception. It remains to be seen if the platform will implement the changes necessary to produce quality movies, instead of acquiring them, but, for now, it looks like Lopez and Caro will score a hit somewhere else.
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