New Zealand’s own Niki Caro has made her filmmaking return with the Jennifer Lopez fronted Netflix film The Mother – but despite a blockbuster lead, the flick isn’t faring well with reviewers.

Now available on Netflix, the action-thriller follows Lopez, an ex-special forces assassin who comes out of hiding to protect her daughter, whom she gave up years ago.

On review-aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, The Mother currently ranks as Caro’s lowest rated project with a score of 45%, while her highest rated at 91% is 2002’s Whale Rider.

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw took a jab at the film’s screenplay, written by Misha Green, Peter Craig, and Andrea Berloff, stating “there’s some real ChatGPT film-making here in this abjectly formulaic and inert Netflix thriller from director Niki Caro, although ChatGPT would have made a better, clearer job of the muddled story.”

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The AV Club’s Courtney Howard also highlighted the film’s writing errors, saying, “around the midpoint, characters slowly stop behaving as humans, and behave more like puppets functioning on behalf of the story. It also suffers from a villain problem where both of the evil exes are barely one dimensional, neither oppressive nor genuinely menacing due to Fiennes’ and Bernal’s lack of meaty material.”

Variety’s Owen Gleiberman described The Mother as “lumpy and inflated, it’s sketchy yet a touch grandiose, and it’s full of tersely dramatised scenes that somehow feel overly broad”, while Collider’s Tania Hussain wrote “it’s a good story with a lot of potential, but there are also some undercooked elements that cannot be ignored.”

Jennifer Lopez in The Mother.


Jennifer Lopez in The Mother.

CNN’s Brian Lowry also gave The Mother a less than preferable review, saying the film’s aspects seemed “stitched together from genre clichés”, and that ”at one point, the mother speaks of Zoe’s ordeal by saying, ‘Let this all just be a bad memory’. The Mother isn’t quite that bad, but that sentiment resonates more than it should”.

Entertainment.ie’s Brian Lloyd was even more scathing, writing “given the burn rate of Netflix movies, chances are ‘The Mother’ will disappear off your home screen in a week and be completely forgotten in a month’s time. Best for everyone to draw a line underneath it and move on”.

The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney labelled it “enjoyably silly”, with Lopez’s starpower working against her, writing “there are other people in The Mother, but this project from Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions banner is so assiduously molded around its leading lady that they scarcely matter”.

However, the film has won over some critics, with IndieWire’s Jude Dry writing “Caro proves herself adept at staging large-scale action scenes with intriguing creative flourishes”, and Time’s Stephanie Zacharek suggesting “if you approach it in the right spirit, The Mother could be ridiculously good fun”.

The Mother is currently available to stream on Netflix.


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