As I reflect on Netflix’s mediocre actioner The Mother, Jennifer Lopez’s career keeps clouding my thoughts.
Lopez’s earned career-best acclaim for her turn as a strip club performer-turn-vigilante in Hustlers, with predictions of a possible award campaign. The performance didn’t cross that bridge completely; making me question what Lopez’s next move was going to be. If Hustlers was the tip of a mountain Lopez was working towards, her films after that have been the actress trekking back down older footholds. These revisitations have included a trip back through rom-coms, which has been uneven (Marry Me, yay. Shotgun Wedding, nay), but this also suggests that Lopez was going to find her way into another action/thriller (ala Enough or Parker). Cue: The Mother where she plays a former assassin who was forced to give up her daughter at birth to guarantee protection for her baby. She’s brought back out of retirement when that safety is compromised.
The film’s premise sounds like a failsafe set-up for solid thrills; and the star power of its cast (Omari Hardwick, Gael García Bernal, Joseph Fiennes, and Sound of Metal Oscar nominee Paul Raci) with an experienced filmmaker at the wheel (Niki Caro of North Country and Mulan ) surely provided extra reasurance in pre-production. Keywords like “failsafe” and “reassurance”, however, don’t always make a winner. The Mother is able to meet expectations, but it doesn’t push past being an average action flick. It proudly straddles the middle ground, alternating between fast-paced gunplay with plenty of headshots to go around and droopy exposition explained between characters. Considering Netflix likes to repackage this same type of tough mother character in different dangerous situations (see: Bird Box, Awake, The Unforgivable, Lou), the limited range of this archetype is starting to reveal itself.
The Mother may entertain you in the moment despite its clunkier qualities but, if you know the payers behind the picture or are looking to be challenged, you may also vie for something more substantial.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie