Casting a known face for a generic action thriller film is the perfect formula for Netflix to make a film marketable. Be it “The Gray Man” or the “Extraction” franchise, everyone loves to watch a recognizable face on television, even if the story is a bit sparse. Niki Caro, who happens to be the director of Jennifer Lopez’s “The Mother,” has had a pretty impressive filmography so far, as she has directed some really emotional and moving films throughout these years. But a streaming platform and a giant like Netflix can act as a double-edged sword for the writer’s or director’s skills because the first thing they lose is autonomy, but the exposure their work gains is enviable. However, even if “The Mother” surprises us, we will be glad, as it is a win for the artist.
Guessing from the trailer, the plot of “The Mother” seems pretty straightforward. Jennifer Lopez, who plays an ace assassin, probably wanted to find a way out of the criminal world after she got pregnant. An assassin in dire need of retirement is hardly an unexplored concept in films, especially in 2023, when “John Wick 4” took over the world like a storm. In John’s case, he wanted to retire because he fell in love with a woman and would have done anything to be with her. He even made a deal with the High Table to get his way out. In “The Mother,” we come across a similar plot line where Jennifer Lopez’s character probably made a deal with the FBI to get away from her adversaries and give her daughter a normal life. However, things didn’t turn out as expected, and seven FBI agents were ruthlessly killed by gang lords (probably the main villains of the film) named Hector Alvarez and Adrian Lovell. Going by their names, it seems like The Mother used to work for these lords, who probably own a drug cartel or engage in the illegal trade of weapons between the US-Mexico border, because that’s the cliche we expect the most from Netflix films.
So, what went wrong? We can assume that The Mother killed a lot of important people for Hector and Adrian and was their favorite hitman. The FBI, on the other hand, wanted to put an end to their criminal regime but didn’t have any substantial evidence to put them behind bars. Hence, they might have approached Jennifer Lopez’s character to become a state witness in return for a normal life for herself and her baby. This is where opportunity meets necessity. However, it seemed that the information that the assassin had handed over to the authorities wasn’t enough to get the bad men arrested (for long), and hence, these men were coming after The Mother to take revenge for the betrayal. Now the FBI lady suggested the only option the assassin has: she has to separate from her daughter and live an isolated life somewhere in Alaska. In the meantime, the FBI arranged foster parents for the daughter, Zoe, so that she could lead a normal life in a normal society. But some 12 years later, Hector and Adrian found out about the daughter’s location, and here we are, back to square one. The gangsters sent their men to abduct the daughter, and now The Mother had to come out of hiding to save the one thing that she cherished the most in this world. But what’s the solution here?
With so many shots of violent rage, close shots of guns and ammunition, and one aesthetically planned shot of Jennifer Lopez doing a pull-up, the answer isn’t that difficult. The Mother spent her days in the wilderness to train for the day that would eventually come. She had to take up arms once again to kill Hector and Adrian, but why spend years waiting when one could have just joined hands with the FBI and done the same earlier? I mean, she is an ace assassin, right? Or did the FBI think using an assassin against her own bosses would be pretty unethical, and so sent her to Alaska so the viewers could have a change of scenery?
In the later part of the trailer, we find that The Mother successfully saved the daughter, but then Zoe doesn’t recognize her birth mother, a dilemma that is probably going to occupy some major screentime. Putting our trust in Niki Caro’s expertise, we believe this will probably be the best part of the film, where we will witness a developing bond between the mother and the daughter. Jennifer Lopez’s character wanted to become a mother and was thus ready to do anything for the same, but she never got the chance. And now, some years later, she gets the opportunity to live the way she always wanted, except there are some bad men coming for her and her daughter. We always love watching this conflict on screen, where ruthless assassins turn out to be pretty emotional beings after they fall in love or develop a fear of losing someone precious. As assassins, they have always lived an isolated life, so bonding with another human being has never been their thing, but the way they try to bridge those gaps is extremely delightful. The same could be true for Jennifer Lopez’s character, who throughout the trailer looks like a hard, stern assassin, but her demeanor will probably change when she has to deal with a 12-year-old teenager. Would she still be that strict and stern or have to express some motherly emotion? And how we will be able to express those emotions will certainly be something we will be looking out for. Those scenes are surely going to test her skills as an actor.
Nevertheless, “The Mother” directly informs us that the assassin will do anything to protect her daughter and is even ready to die protecting her, and thus this drop of information suggests a possible tragic ending of the film, unless Netflix has already planned a sequel. Then we can assume another villain will spring up or someone’s brother will arrive to take revenge for their fallen brothers. We are hopeful that Niki Caro’s film plays more on the mother’s emotions instead of following the generic action thriller formula because that would not only waste such great talents in the film but also the audience’s time.