‘The Mother’ movie review: Jennifer Lopez rocks this taut actioner

Niki Caro’s tale of an assassin coming out of retirement to keep her daughter out of the crosshairs of some nasty people is the best kind of lean, mean fighting machine

May 12, 2023 06:14 pm | Updated 06:20 pm IST

Jennifer Lopez in a still from ‘The Mother’

Jennifer Lopez in a still from ‘The Mother’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

If one cannot have Jodie Foster for a mum, then JLo would do very well. With Liam Neeson and his very special set of skills, one would be set forever. Niki Caro, after the gorgeous Mulan and the critically acclaimed Whale Rider, turns her sights on the action movie and delivers solid thrills. This is a movie well deserving of Jennifer Lopez; unlike that hideous, horrible Shotgun Wedding.  

The Mother (English)
Director: Niki Caro
Cast: Jennifer Lopez, Joseph Fiennes, Omari Hardwick, Gael García Bernal, Paul Raci, Lucy Paez
Run time: 117 minutes
Storyline: An assassin will do what it takes to protect her daughter

Quite like Planeearlier this year, The Mother does not waste any time getting into the action. An unnamed woman (Lopez) is being interrogated by the FBI. She tells them two very bad men — Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector Álvarez (Gael García Bernal) are after her and even though the agents assure her of her safety, she knows better.

Her scepticism is proved right when the safe house is breached. We realise she is heavily pregnant, just before Lovell sticks a knife into her belly. She improvises a bomb (surely she learnt to fashion explosives from a bottle of cleaning product in the same class that Jason Bourne went to) and is hustled to safety.

She delivers a healthy baby girl but is convinced to sign over parenting rights for the good of the child. She does so, after extracting a promise from Agent Cruise (Omari Hardwick) to look out for her daughter, keep her informed of her daughter’s life with an annual photo, and let her know immediately if the girl is in any danger. “I want her to have the most stable, normal life there is,” she insists.

All goes well for 12 years for Zoe (Lucy Paez), while the Mother is living rough in the freezing cold of Alaska. Then everything goes wrong. Zoe is kidnapped by Álvarez’ thugs. Off Mother and Cruise go to Havana to confront Álvarez who is living in a bizarre church-like mansion with many candles and brittle tapers just waiting to catch a spark.

There is a bit of a flashback as Mother tells Cruise how she got involved with these two despicable men. In the course of her training as a sniper, Mother crossed paths with Lovell, an ex-SAS man who supplies “powerful people needing things that aren’t on the menu.” Álvarez is the one stealing the arms and Lovell finds the buyers. Mother brings the two together and then sells them both out when she realises they are not only running guns.

There is action and thrills aplenty and so are the quiet moments. Lopez is in top form whether sashaying in a figure-hugging sheath, swirling through some nifty parkour, taking an impossible shot or telling Zoe truths about the food chain — “There is nothing you ever ate that didn’t come from violence.”

Fiennes carries on the grand tradition of scarred and that wee bit demented villains matched beat for beat by Bernal. Paul Raci as Jons, is effective in centring Mother and the wolf and her pups are just the cutest. A lean, mean fighting machine of a movie, The Mother is an unalloyed treat. Bring the popcorn already.  

The Mother is currently streaming on Netflix

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.