J.Lo stays ‘ready for whatever’ in her 50s

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
J.Lo stays �ready for whatever� in her 50s
Jennifer Lopez is once again displaying her fighting form in the sci-fi action film ‘Atlas,’ which is now streaming on Netflix. J.Lo is enjoying this rare feat of being an action star in her 50s. But given her track record in the genre, including ‘The Mother,’ ‘Hustlers,’ ‘Enough,’ ‘Out of Sight,’ etc., it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Photo courtesy of Netflix

MANILA, Philippines — “Atlas” presents a world teeming with artificial intelligence (AI), raising possibilities of what else AI can do for humans in the future.

In the sci-fi action movie now streaming on Netflix, AI is presented as more than capable of taking care of your many needs — from the everyday, like serving how you want your coffee, to the profound, offering companionship when you’re alone and vulnerable.

Can AI potentially substitute for human comfort or companionship in situations where it’s unavailable? This idea is explored in the film, with Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez playing the titular role of Atlas, a brilliant data analyst who finds an ally in an AI named Smith. Initially distrustful of AI, Atlas ends up enlisting Smith’s help to bring down the world’s first-ever AI terrorist, Harlan (played by Simu Liu), developing an emotional connection in the process. It’s a love story, albeit of a different kind, in this action project of the rom-com queen we also call J.Lo.

In an interview with the international press, including The STAR, Jennifer stressed that it’s her character’s relationship with Smith that’s “at the core of everything” in “Atlas.”

“It’s like (the message is) let’s not forget to be connected. And I think Atlas is totally disconnected from everybody at the beginning of the movie, and she has been for most of her life since this traumatic event when she was a child,” she said.

“She gets thrown into a situation where she thinks she knows what she needs to do. And then, when she’s left all alone on the planet, has to really figure it out along with this AI and his kind of saying to her, ‘I’m not gonna leave you, I’m gonna be here, I’m gonna take care of you.’ Literally chips away at her soul, little by little.

“And he proves to her that she can trust and she can be connected with somebody again, and she can let somebody into her heart and her mind. And to me, that was always the heart of what this movie was about.”

Jennifer, nevertheless, pointed out that the film presents both sides of the equation when it comes to harnessing AI.

“I think the movie does a really good job of showing both sides, showing how it could go terribly wrong and showing how, when used properly and linked properly with humans, with the human in the driver’s seat, you could really do amazing things together,” she said.

“It’s just about kind of respecting that it could go out of control. And understanding that. Respecting AI in that sense, and making sure that we regulate it in the right ways and use it in the right ways.”

J.Lo plays Atlas, a brilliant data analyst who finds an ally in an AI named Smith. They team up in bringing down the first AI terrorist, Harlan. In the photo below, the actress films scenes on a green screen, inside a pod, on the set.
Photos courtesy of Netflix

Meanwhile, the 54-year-old J.Lo is once again displaying her fighting form after her 2023 movie, “The Mother,” also on Netflix. While the fight scenes in “The Mother” were “earth-bound,” in “Atlas,” all the action is staged in space. If her last action role saw her as a steely military-trained assassin driven by maternal love, here, she starts out as less skilled in combat, wears her emotions on her sleeves, then upskills with the help of AI. But she is equally driven to stop the enemy, spurred by a dark episode in her past involving her mother.

Many reports have pointed out how J.Lo is enjoying this rare feat of being an action star in her 50s. In an Associated Press video, she herself acknowledged that to be, at her age, “as you say, this kind of an action hero in this movie” has been “incredibly inspiring for myself and groundbreaking that Netflix or any big studio would go, ‘Yeah, that’s the person, we want in this role right now.’”

Still, given Jennifer’s track record in the genre, including “Hustlers,” “Enough,” “Out of Sight,” among others, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she’s the best person for the job.

When asked how she prepared for the action during our interview, she said the tougher parts during filming came from aspects beyond the required action sequences.

“You know, I’ve done a lot of — I’ve done some action movies. I’m very athletic as it is. I do a lot of dancing. So it’s one of those things like, you stay ready, you’re ready for whatever.”

The challenges in her latest action film were different in the sense that, “I’m used to working with stunt coordinators and all kinds of stuff like that, but a lot of this was kind of Smith fighting for me, you know?”

“So, the more challenging part of the role was being on the green screen in the pod and making it feel like I was doing all of that stuff when I wasn’t really doing all of that stuff,” she added.

In this film, Jennifer had to maintain both physicality and emotional intensity as required by her character’s scenes, which left her exhausted but not necessarily injured.

“The effort of it and the kind of being thrown around and sinking into a sinkhole and dropping 150 feet or 500, you know, all of the emotion and the adrenaline of that, bringing that to the role, I think was a more important thing for my character that I was concentrating on all the time,” Jennifer said.

“I’m like, you’re in a life-and-death situation. Just that level all day, every day for seven weeks, was the thing that was the most kind of taxing on me. I would go home at night with a limp, and I wasn’t hurt, I was just tired. It was a tired limp. It’s that type of thing.”

Directed by Brad Peyton, “Atlas” also stars Simu Liu, Sterling K. Brown, Gregory James Cohan, Abraham Popoola, Lana Parrilla and Mark Strong.

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