THE MOTHER – Review by Jennifer Merin

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The Mother is a high velocity action thriller with a feminist filmmaker pedigree. Niki Caro directs the fast paced screenplay by Andrea Berloff, Misha Green and Peter Craig, based on a story by Misha Green. Jennifer Lopez, who coproduced the movie, stars as ‘The Mother,’ a former super spy and military assassin whose life is threatened by a very bad man who is seeking revenge for a high stakes deal that went south. The Mother (the character’s mane is never revealed) is determined to save the teenage girl she birthed years ago and reluctantly gave over to a foster family for the child’s protection from the evil revengeful gangster who is determined to kill both mother and daughter.

In her performance as ‘The Mother,’ Jennifer Lopez proves herself time and again to be fully skilled black belt in badassery. In thrilling chase sequences, with the reluctant daughter in tow, she eludes the bad guys by truck, motorcycle and boat, on foot and on snowshoes. She shields her daughter with her own body when assault weapons are discharged in their direction, and she knocks off dozens of bad guys — sometimes with guns she’s taken from them. During down time, she teaches her daughter survival skills — and how to strategically plant landmines.

The action-intense plot of The Mother is entirely implausible and totally unbelievable. But it’s a film that doesn’t aspire to authenticity and the mother/daughter theme is compelling. THE MOTHER succeeds as an unapologetic strong woman action film that doesn’t rely on a feminist flip of a male-centric story. Nor does it shy away from spectacularly difficult stunts and extremely challenging shooting locations. The cinematography and other production elements are superb and make for a memorable adventure.

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).