The role of overly protective mother suits Jennifer Lopez well. In 2002, she played a mother trying to protect herself and her child from her abusive husband in Enough. In 2015, she played a mother trying to protect herself from a psycho student in The Boy Next Door (2015). In The Mother, she plays the parent who has a past that impacts her own child. The name of Lopez’s character is simply Mother.
This film opens in a crime investigation and the situation has gotten ugly. She has spent much of her life on the run trying to escape from her past involvement with drug cartels and dangerous enemies. Mother keeps getting caught in situations where her troubles are linked to her past. Mother can’t even see her daughter Zoey (played by Lucy Paez) due to having legal troubles which pose a risk to her own daughter. Both Mother and Zoey are in harm’s way and the situations do not get any easier.
Mother has lost custody of Zoey. Despite Mother’s past, she will do all it takes to protect her daughter. Because drug cartels keep impacting Mother’s life, she has adapted to being aware of her surroundings and fighting like her life depends on it. The film transitions to Mother’s harsh past and Lopez gives a stellar performance of teaching a child how to survive. However, the transition lacks focus, and The Mother begins to feature many catastrophes with lots of shooting action.
Unfortunately, the featured scenarios led to boredom in my opinion. As soon as Mother’s main objective was to ensure her daughter knows how to survive, I found that there was no meaningful clarification to how exactly this connects to Mother’s past. In the beginning of the movie, there are backstories of Mother being a veteran and also involved in various crime scenarios. Then, she seems to be a criminal who is targeted by the worst enemies. The film’s algorithm which would allow it to find its redemption by having Mother and daughter survive is off base. I thought to myself that the role of Lopez was a bit like Liam Neeson’s role in Taken (2009). The Mother is similar to Taken in terms of fighting for the ones we love most. Disappointingly, the direction is lacking in quality that results in this story being a predictable setup with obvious outcomes.
On a positive note, The Mother is watchable because Lopez delivers a prestige performance. As she teaches her daughter to fight, she tells her to use her hate and frustration to help her live. The Mother fully explores that idea. The film also displays how the present is more important than the past. Mother’s previous issues are not worth going back to. In The Mother, Zoey is the priority of the story, but the film suffers due to the lack of structure and poor writing. Still, thanks to Lopez’s strong acting skills, it is not a complete failure. Two and a half stars for The Mother.