After some unforgettable romantic comedies, Jennifer Lopez is back in her element as a tough chick you wouldn’t want to mess with (see also Con artists, out of sight, enough) in a slick if slightly silly Netflix action thriller Mother.
Lopez plays the titular mother – an ex-soldier/assassin whose name we never learn – who we first meet when she is held in a safe house by FBI agents questioning her about her two ex-boyfriends, evil arms dealers Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector Alvarez (Gael Garcia Bernal).
Of course, the hideout isn’t safe at all, and before she can tell them anything, armed men shell the place and Lovell corners our heroine in the bathroom, where he spots her large pregnancy bump and stabs him, simply to prove what a really bad bad guy he is. Luckily, Mother escapes as she is engulfed in flames from a small explosion she created using a few cleaners and a candle (she’s a very resourceful ex-assassin, in case you haven’t guessed) and safely gives birth to her baby. And all this in the first 10 minutes.
Fast forward 12 years and Mother lives in the Alaskan wilderness, giving her baby girl up for adoption to keep her safe. Her only friend in the FBI, Agent Cruise (Omari Hardwick), warns her that her daughter Zoe (Lucy Paez) is in danger, forcing her to come out of hiding to protect a child she’s never met and face these bad guys – any one of them could be Zoe’s father.
From there, the fast-paced story takes Cruise and Mother to Cuba in search of Alvarez, then a playful chase through the streets ensues with every obstacle imaginable, from nuns and a funeral procession to a wedding and a group of children school age before it comes to a hilarious ending with the bad guy flying through the sky in slow motion at the same time as the wedding bouquet being thrown.
We also get that staple part of many revenge action movies, the training sequence when Mother and Zoe head back into the snowy wilderness and Mom teaches her daughter how to survive with guns and knives, and how to drive if the villains come after them again. No rewards for guessing if these life lessons will come in handy later.
As you may have noticed, everything is quite predictable – the biggest surprise is how underutilized Bernal, Fiennes and The SopranosEdie Falco (in the blink of an eye and you’ll miss the role) are – and it’s pretty ridiculous at times.
But that’s part of the fun, whether you’re wondering how Mother can speed from a crime scene littered with bodies without the police chasing her, or wondering why she and Cruise were sent alone to Cuba without FBI support to take out all a bunch of heavily trained, lone-armed thugs.
Thankfully, the film never takes itself too seriously (and neither should we) and never pretends to be more than it is – an action thriller that is Jennifer Lopez’s signature show.
And as such, it works great. Lopez – who rarely receives the acting credit she deserves – is extremely visible as resourceful, caring and even brutal (she punches people with her fist wrapped in barbed wire!) The heart of the film, and her scenes with her on-screen daughter Paez are pleasantly unsentimental, too.
While we could do with a little more scene-chewing from Joseph Fiennes growling, this is a Lopez movie from start to finish after all, and if you’re on board, Mother is a pleasantly silly action movie.
Mother is now available to watch on Netflix.