J. Lo runs out of bullets here.
The latest Jennifer Lopez vehicle “The Mother” makes it to Netflix, the streaming site guaranteed to make it a hit, even though it doesn’t amount to much. Niki Caro has made some fresh films in the past like “Whale Rider,” and the live-action remake of “Mulan,” and she can film some amazing action sequences, but the screenplay by Misha Green (“Lovecraft Country”), Andrea Berloff (“Straight Outta Compton”), and Peter Craig (“Top Gun: Maverick”) is too routine and standard for my tastes. Who could really care about those scenes.
J. Lo stars as a pregnant assassin, known as The Mother, whose baby girl must be placed in another family by the FBI for her protection, while she goes into hiding from the bad guys Adrien Lovell (Joseph Fiennes) and Hector Alvarez (Gael Garcia Bernal), who want revenge on her. On the condition that every year on her daughter’s birthday, she knows how she’s doing from the FBI. 12 years later, the girl named Zoe (Lucy Paez) gets kidnapped, and The Mother must come to her rescue.
One of the two bad guys may be the father of that child, which is one of the reasons why they kidnap her. But how could they have known it was The Mother’s child, unless they got inside information. Don’t know. Don’t care.
She also receives help from FBI agent William Cruise (Omari Hardwick), whom she saves from Adrien’s shootout. She saw the good in him, which is why she saved him, and he sees the good in her. This is the most interesting aspect of the film.
After saving Zoe, she knows the assassin is her mother, and when they both become targeted by Adrien and his men, it becomes a formulaic estranged mother-daughter story. They have to bicker about her mother hunting animals with “Bambi” jokes, the preteen required to learn to drive their getaway truck and how to shoot, smoking, calling her mother a “B,” and basically any cliche in particular genre, especially when the mother had to give her away.
I suppose Lopez and Hardwick both have likable chemistry without the same cliches of an agent and an assassin, and the film wants to give them a tender side. And even Lopez does some good work on her own. But “The Mother” wastes that potential with the estranged mother-daughter story I’ve mentioned, and the villains couldn’t be flatter than pancakes. They don’t do anything remotely interesting or menacing. Not at the level for us to really enjoy actors as villains.
It’s a shame that Lopez’s last few films “Shotgun Wedding,” “Marry Me,” and now “The Mother” are inferior to “Hustlers.” That near masterpiece allowed Lopez to play a character with an amazing script. Even her documentary “Halftime” acknowledged that. But if she wants to stop complaining about how the public treated her select movies, then she needs to really read the script, and think things really carefully. Is the story worth something of her talents? Will she do it for the principle, and not for the money? I’m not being a jerk here. I’m telling her this as a person and fan. She is a strong and fun woman, and she can be strong and fun. “The Mother” can be strong, but it couldn’t be fun.
Sorry, J. Lo.
Now Playing in Select Theaters and Streaming on Netflix