The Mother (2023) Review and Ending Explained – Lou + Peppermint x Winter Weather = Retread

By Marc Miller
Published: May 12, 2023 (Last updated: March 11, 2024)
The Mother (2023) Review and Ending Explained
The Mother (2023) (Credit - Netflix)


The Mother is a dull, stagnant, and futile exercise in streaming content.

After watching a couple thousand action films, I started The Mother, and it finally happened. Jennifer Lopez’s character chases a villain that would make Hank Quinlan blush. The man puts out a solid forearm and knocks over a sweet-looking nun dressed in crisp all-white friar and Cornette.

It’s that type of thriller that combines the sensibilities of female-led revenge thrillers like Peppermint and Lou that equals nothing more than another retread that studio executives call original. Most shockingly, it comes from Niki Caro, the director of The Whale Rider.

The Mother (2023) Review and Plot Summary

Lopez plays “Mother,” a former military operative and veteran of back-to-back tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with forty confirmed kills and an accurate sniper rifle from at least 1,300 meters away.

Just after her last military operation, Mother went to work for Hector Álvarez (Gael García Bernal) and Adrian Lovell (Joseph Fiennes), illegal arms dealers who utilize her talents.

However, Mother wants out, and she is nine months pregnant. She tries to strike a deal with Special Agent Cruise (Omari Hardwick) and Williams (Edie Falco) to enter witness protection.

However, after her former employers find her location, she is almost killed. Mother then must give up her child for adoption and enter protective custody. She hides in Alaska with the help of her former commander, Jons (Paul Raci).

That’s the carrot, now here’s the stick — twelve years later, her old employers locate her missing daughter, Zoe (Lucy Paez), and use her as a pawn by kidnapping her in order to draw Mother out. With the help of Cruise, they travel overseas to rescue the daughter she never knew.

It’s almost shocking how inept and eye-rolling the material is here, considering the talent involved in this mess. Besides Niki Caro going for a straightforward payday, the script is written by some of the most talented blockbuster writers working today.

The original story was from Lovecraft Country’s Misha Green, who developed the script, along with Andrea Berloff, who wrote Straight Outta Compton. Then, inexplicably, The Batman, Top Gun: Maverick, and The Town scribe Peter Craig took a swing and missed wildly.

What went wrong? Well, the material is recycled. The writers fumble over any sort of theme that comes with vulnerable populations and animal rights. The plot is as obvious as they come, which comes across as bland and even pointless.

The story is a practically rudderless existence since the final two acts repeat themselves in vastly different settings.

At the very least, Lopez holds her own as an action star and gets back to her days in Enough, but the movie has very few thrills. The material is bad here. The villains are so over the top and give off the fun vibe that they’re so bad. And the booby prize goes to Fiennes. I’m not sure what he did to be stuck in a film like The Mother.

The star of films like Shakespeare in Love and Elizabeth is cartoonishly menacing with little room to make the role interesting.

Is the 2023 film The Mother worth watching?

The Mother is a bad action-thriller with a good Jennifer Lopez wasted in the role. The story is a dull, stagnant, and futile exercise in streaming content.

There are much better films to stream on Netflix with strong and intelligent action heroes, like Kate and Gunpowder Milkshake. The Mother is worth watching with your mom on Mother’s Day if you are looking to enact some sweet revenge after a childhood filled with abuse and neglect. If you are a fan of mind-numbing, female-driven revenge thrillers like Peppermint and Lou, the Niki Caro film fits that description all too perfectly.

The Mother (2023) Ending Explained

Is Hector Zoe’s father?

The question of whether Hector is Zoe’s father is never answered clearly by Mother. In the movie, the script states that Mother dated both arms dealers, including Adrian and Hector Álvarez. However, when Alvarez’s henchmen kidnap Zoe, the question is raised.

Mother and Special Agent Cruise can rescue Zoe, but Alvarez corners her with a gun and asks if the little girl is his. Mother replies, “Does it matter?” She ends up killing him to escape.

The Mother (2023) (Credit – Netflix)

Is Adrian Zoe’s father?

Whether Adrian is Zoe’s father is never answered directly, but there is enough evidence to conclude he is, in fact, the father. This all despite stabbing Mother in the stomach with a large, sharp knife to kill her and her unborn child. For one, at the 57:31 mark, Adrian attempts to kidnap Zoe after her initial rescue and holds her head in his hands lovingly.

At the 38:17 mark, Mother arranges for Hector and Adrian to work together. She challenges him that he cannot dance as well as Hector in a flashback, where Adrian then grabs her ass. She tells Cruise she became pregnant, which hints at Adrian being the father. It should be noted, though, at the 40:52 mark, Mother means Cruise that Zoe is not either’s, only “mine.”

What did Mother try to make a deal with the FBI?

After becoming pregnant, Mother discovered that Hector and Adrian were not only smuggling weapons but had also become human traffickers. Suspecting that there was more going on than just moving guns, she checked Adrian’s shipping crates.

In the first crate, she only found assault rifles in wooden boxes, but she heard coughing and whimpering coming from another container. Upon opening it, she found dozens of neglected children. Mother called the authorities and tried to strike a deal

How does Mother save Zoe?

Mother saves Zoe from Adrian in Alaska by shooting him in the head with her sniper rifle while trying to drive away from him. After being bitten by a wolf puppy, Mother takes Zoe to a clinic but gives the doctor her real name. Mother knows Adrian will be shown that information because it was put into a public database.

Mother leaves Zoe with her former commander, who lives nearby, but Zoe escapes and returns to Mother. Adrian’s associates then capture Mother, but after killing a dozen or so bad guys on snowmobiles, Mother gets her back. Adrian holds Mother at gunpoint, but Zoe shoots at both of them, trying to defend her biological parent.

The bullets, however, are packed with salt, which is used to scare away wolves.

Adrian is injured but grabs Zoe and throws her into a truck. From a couple of football fields away, with her arm injured, Mother takes a shot, killing Adrian and saving Zoe after the car stops.

Does Mother regain custody of Zoe?

No, Mother does not regain custody of Zoe. After rescuing her, Mother returns Zoe to her adoptive mother. However, the Mother rents an apartment where she can watch Zoe play outside at school. One day, Zoe stops skating and looks up at the apartment window, making a fake rifle-shooting sound with her mouth and hands.

Mother touches her heart, revealing a bracelet with the word ‘mom’ on it

What did you think of the 2023 Netflix film The Mother? Comment below.

RELATED: Who Plays the Daughter in The Mother?

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