REVIEW: “The Mother”, not bad, not good

Jennifer Lopez has had a uniquely interesting career. After starting out as a dancer on the sketch comedy series In Living Color, she went on to become a hugely successful popstar, a romantic comedy icon, and, according to a cursory Wikipedia search, the highest paid Hispanic actress in Hollywood. 

However, as far as I know she’s never played a Jason Bourne-esque killing machine, which she does in Netflix’s The Mother

She is pretty good. The movie itself is fine, if perfectly forgettable. 

The story of The Mother is fairly simple, which I actually find refreshing. Jennifer Lopez plays an army veteran with super-duper aiming powers who turns on some bad people and has to go into hiding as a result. She’s pregnant at the time, so she gives up her baby and then goes into action when that child is threatened by those same bad people. They bond, they participate in a climactic snowmobile battle together. 

It all serves as a nice reminder that motherhood can take many forms and that extended wolf metaphors are very useful at conveying that fact if the audience somehow doesn’t reach that conclusion themselves. 

JLo’s turn as a tough-as-nails action star is a fun development that I would like to see explored in future films, if not necessarily a sequel to this one. She does the tough, quiet brooding thing quite well, and her dancing background makes the transition to a more violent form of choreography a natural one. 

The fight scenes in The Mother seem decent enough, but it was kind of hard to tell because one of the film’s failures lies in the editing of said fight scenes. The cinematography is so choppy when the action starts and has so many cuts that these brawls rarely look like continuous, fluid sequences, but instead come across as a Frankenstein’s monster of separate split-second clips spliced together. 

I don’t know if this was done in order to hide obvious stunt doubles or to make things seem faster paced and more exciting than they actually were, but either way it serves as a huge distraction to what otherwise might have been exciting set pieces. 

Another thing that would have benefited these fight scenes greatly is some semblance of a score. Jason Bourne got music during his fight scenes. James Bond gets music during his fight scenes. So why does JLo get complete silence? 

The script of The Mother is also not the film’s strongest suit, filled with cliches and questionable FBI protocol as it is (I’m far from an expert, but I don’t think the Bureau has the jurisdiction to go and kill a bunch of people in Cuba while someone who should be in witness protection tags along, even if the people in question were bad guys). 

Everything that happens in this film can be accurately guessed far in advance, leaving little room for surprises or originality. But thanks to its lead, straightforward plot, and decent if sometimes hard-to-read action sequences, The Mother isn’t terrible… it’s just not really good either. 

The Mother is on Netflix.