The Mother (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)

Netflix and Jennifer Lopez’ “The Mother” is an intriguing drama suffocated by a bad action movie.


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Director(s) Niki Caro
Screenplay By Misha Green

Andrea Berloff

Peter Craig

Based On N/A
Date Released (Netflix) May 12th, 2023
Genre(s) Action

Thriller

Duration 1 hr, 55 mins
Content Rating R
Noted Cast
The Mother Jennifer Lopez
Cruise Omari Hardwick
Adrian Joseph Fiennes
Hector Gael García Bernal
Zoe Lucy Paez
Jons Paul Raci

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links which, if a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

Film Summary

The Mother spends her life in hiding for twelve years until she learns her daughter’s life is in danger when criminals/ex-coworkers (Joseph Fiennes and Gael García Bernal) plan to hunt her down. She is prepared to go to great lengths to protect her child (played by an equally inquisitive yet naive Lucy Paez). Some of those great lengths include shooting up a children’s playground, waterboarding people, and many explosions.

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Jennifer Lopez is “The Mother”

This movie is a rush of quick cuts, bullets, and little explanation. But if you stop to think about what’s going on, “The Mother” quickly unravels. We never learn the Mother’s name or much about her background. When her daughter asks questions, the Mother responds with, “You’re too young,” but the audience never gets an answer either. There’s a difference between mystery and thin writing. “The Mother” throws so many action scenes at the viewer that they barely have time to process the story or feel for any character in the movie.

Things To Note

Why Is “The Mother” Rated R

  • Dialogue: Some profanity
  • Violence: All sorts of bloody violence, especially of the stabbing variety.
  • Sexual Content: Some suggestions/threats of sexual assault

Question(s) Left Unanswered

  1. Why did Adrian want The Mother or Zoe?
  2. Zoe really didn’t seem to learn that the wolves weren’t pets, huh?

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

The Mother

A trained fighter and assassin who works with the FBI to protect her daughter. The Mother lives a life in exile until her past comes back to haunt her. 

Adrian

The leader of a large crime syndicate who will stop at nothing to find The Mother and her daughter.

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Adrian (Joseph Fiennes) and The Mother (Jennifer Lopez) in a flashback to happier times.

Zoe

A highly inquisitive girl who’s slowly learning about her mom’s past and lifestyle: while Zoe wants to return home, she understands her life is in danger. 

Review


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Our Rating: Mixed (Divisive) 

Highlights

The Developed Relationship Between the Mother and Daughter

Halfway through the film, the action stops. The Mother takes Zoe to her hidden shack in the woods, where she learns more about her mom’s philosophy and lifestyle. These 20 minutes of the movie contain wit, shifting power dynamics, and nice exposition for the mom and daughter’s contrasting views. If the film was dedicated to seeing how a distant mom and daughter reconnect in the unforgiving bitter cold and outdoors, that would have made a more original and intriguing film.

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The Mother. (L to R) Jennifer Lopez as The Mother, Lucy Paez as Zoe in The Mother. Cr. Doane Gregory/Netflix © 2023.

Low Points

Little Explanation Provides Little Understanding and Empathy for Characters

We never fully learn why the bad guy is so intent on hunting down The Mother. At one point, he wants to kidnap Zoe to get The Mother’s attention; at another point, he’s fine with Zoe dying; and then, at the end, he wants to take Zoe again. The movie puts in little work to explain why we should care about anyone or their actions.

On The Fence

Jennifer Lopez as an Assassin 

One of the sillier elements of the movie is Jennifer Lopez, in full hair and makeup, hunting down deer in the snow. The character is meant to be tough and ruthless, yet Jennifer Lopez rarely gets down and dirty in the action. This is a person who has lived in the woods for 12 years and is a combat veteran, but there’s no grit in Lopez’s appearance or performance. Some may see this as part of the movie’s appeal. For me, it’s distracting.

Confusing Action That Numbs Instead of Excites

The action scenes consist of quick cuts—a gun here and a body there, close-ups of feet running, faceless enemies—and none of it really makes sense if it weren’t for the intense music playing. The editing for the action creates urgency, but the quick cuts create more confusion than raise the dramatic stakes.

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The Mother (2023) – Movie Review and Summary (with Spoilers)
Overall
While "The Mother" has an interesting family relationship in the second act, the beginning and end are filled with thoughtless action.
Highlights
The mother-daughter relationship developments in the second act
Disputable
Thin characters and motivations
Confusing action
Jennifer Lopez as a hardened assassin
70

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