Polish movies in the past were used as voices of protest against the harrowing fates of the inhabitants during the Second World War. These days, however, up-and-coming directors realize that the mainstream audience wants fast cars, fast-paced action sequences, and the ability to kick back and enjoy a movie without having to put too much thought into it. Mateusz Rakowicz’s 2023 action thriller Mother’s Day ticks all these boxes, in addition to showcasing just how dangerous a woman on a mission can be. Agnieszka Grochowska stars as Nina, a former soldier who must go through multiple waves of enemies to save her son, but the catch is that he doesn’t know of her existence. With a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes, the movie is the perfect thing to watch on Netflix this week if you’re looking for some mindless action and want to watch crazy villains get a good thrashing.
Nina lives in a tiny apartment in Poland and likes drinking beer after finishing her shift as a crane operator, but what she doesn’t let on is her dark past. She can often be found picking fights outside shady stores and knocking thugs out for assaulting women, but she takes a few good hits, too, more often than not. Also, on every Mother’s Day, she drives to a street and uses binoculars to peek into a family where an African American kid celebrates his birthday with his Polish parents. The kid named Max is Nina’s son—a secret not too many people know, excluding a cop who hangs out around her time and again. Max never knew his birth parents and has come to see the Polish family as his mom and dad. Things take a sudden turn for the worse when Max is kidnapped by some ski mask-wearing men and taken to an unknown location. Thanks to her cop friend, Nina learns that a Serbian mob boss, Dusan Dragan, has taken Max, and he shall be executed as vengeance on Nina. As a soldier, she was called Kikimora but was thought to have been killed in action by those who knew her in the past. Now, it’s up to the former soldier to brace through insurmountable odds and suffer inhuman levels of punishment to rescue her son from the thugs, who’ll go to any extent to deliver Max to the Serbian crime lord. The thugs are merciless and won’t stop at anything to deliver the package – Max – to the boss who has given them the contract. This final boss is the elusive dusan Dragan but we only hear his voice and he speaks in Serbian. Nina will have her hands full fighting the minions of Dusan Dragan, if he’s powerful enough to kidnap a kid from a different country. Can Nina use her fierce fighting skills to save her son, or will she perish fighting the several enemies who attack her?
The movie relies on its fantastically choreographed action sequences as its main selling point, hands down. Nina’s skills, whether fighting closequarters or wielding a weapon, be it a machete or a shotgun, are unmatched. With hardly a dull moment throughout the movie, the audience is kept on the edge of their seats as hordes of enemies keep pouring in to take down Nina, and she has to use any means necessary to save herself and her son. Speaking of fighting, Nina might be a fighting machine, but there’s only so much a human body can take. She’s shot, bruised, battered, punched, hit multiple times in the head, tasered, and kicked in the gut, amongst other severe injuries, but she just doesn’t die. You could almost say that if Poland made “John Wick” movies with a female lead, Agnieszka Grochowska would be the perfect actress to play the role. It almost goes to the point of absurdity to see someone suffer electric shocks from a Taser and still manage to snap a thug’s neck with a triangle choke. Nina is like the ultimate fighter, and it doesn’t take much for the audience to begin rooting for the woman who survives hell on earth to protect her son, whom she’s never even spoken to.
The villains in Mother’s Day are a colorful lot, to say the least. Nina’s opponents are like NPC antagonists in a video game, where waves upon waves of enemies arrive for the protagonist to mow down before the boss of the level arrives. This goes on for three levels, with almost every boss being named something that matches their personality, and Nina has to take down all three of them before she can face the final boss, Dusan Dragan. The smallest boss is called Baton because he uses a police baton to punish defaulters and runs his illegal business using his restaurant as a cover. The second guy is Titus, and he runs a human trafficking organization, with his main focus being on money. Finally, the third guy is the most unhinged kind that you’ll meet in this movie, and it’s obvious why. He wears one-piece underwear and keeps his father’s severed head in a jar. Oh, and he tazes people to death and is called Voltometer. Nina has her hands full with such a lot of people who don’t really care about the carnage and death they leave in their wake, so they shouldn’t have too much difficulty killing one single woman, right?
With techno music blasting at full volume as Nina battles through her enemies, the movie presents the underbelly of Poland’s corruption levels and the illegal businesses it’s locked into with Russia. With corruption reaching deep inside the intelligence agency, the movie borrows a page from the real-life corruption that’s common in Poland and presents it in detail. However, at the end of the day, Mother’s Day is an action movie where a one-woman army takes on an immense number of enemies because her son is in danger. So if you need to know whether you should watch that new Polish film that arrived on Netflix, this is your sign to hit the play button and sit back as Nina goes on a mission to rout evil for a noble cause.