Movie Review: The Mother

Jennifer Lopez is captivating in this highly violent, but easily compelling, action flick.


The timing on “The Mother” is obvious; it is being released on Friday, May 12, and Mother’s Day is this Sunday.

This is, however, perhaps not ideal family viewing for the holiday — unless your mom is fond of violent mayhem.

The titular mother in this action flick (who is never addressed by name) is played by Jennifer Lopez, in a captivating, movie-star turn. She’s an elite military sniper turned underworld arms dealer. When she becomes pregnant, by one of two fellow baddies (Gael García Bernal and Joseph Fiennes), she goes to the feds for help and protection.

Her plan doesn’t go too well; her old friends show up and kill everyone except our mother and one sympathetic agent (Omari Hardwick). Mom and baby survive, but the government — in the form of a one-scene appearance by Edie Falco — tells her the only way to keep her newborn safe is to disappear. The kid is adopted while mom keeps a low profile in Alaska.

Inevitably, after the action jumps forward 12 years, trouble comes looking for the child (played as a pre-teen by Lucy Paez). To protect her, mom will have to race snowmobiles and motorcycles, set fire to several buildings and shoot a whole lot of people.

It’s refreshing, in an era where every action movie seems to require a global crisis, to see a well-made story with a small scale. While the assorted villains in “The Mother” are undoubtedly up to some bad stuff, the movie isn’t about their misdeeds; it’s simply about the title character trying to keep her daughter alive. It’s easily compelling and highly watchable; there are moments of gravitas, too, as crafted by the skilled director Niki Caro (“Whale Rider,” the live-action “Mulan”).

The barrage of bullets, of course, might prove too much for you. This is no heightened-reality fight flick where the violence feels incidental; you’ll be viscerally aware of each killing. Your mileage may vary, then — but action fans (a category that may or may not include your mom) will be more than satisfied.

My Rating: 7/10

“The Mother” is now streaming on Netflix.

Categories: Sean Collier’s Popcorn for Dinner