Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning'.

(Right) Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

Launching on Netflix on June 21st, ‘Trigger Warning’ appears to represent the streaming giant’s random flicking through a phone book (kids, ask your parents) picking out names of leading ladies who might want to try their hand at action badassery. We’ve had the likes of Jennifer Lopez (‘The Mother’), Charlize Theron (‘The Old Guard’) and Allison Janney (‘Lou’) and now it’s the turn of Jessica Alba.

Trouble is, like some of those other entries, this new offering –– which Alba also executive produced –– feels like someone trying to build a car with scrap parts borrowed from elsewhere.

Related Article: Anthony Michael Hall Talks 'Trigger Warning', 'Reacher' Season 3 and More

Will ‘Trigger Warning’ set you off?

Gabriel Basso as Mike and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.'

(L to R) Gabriel Basso as Mike and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.' Photo: Netflix ©2024.

‘Trigger Warning’: it’s funny because it has two meanings, right, RIGHT? Anyone? No? Well, given how mostly humorless the movie turns out to be, it’s perhaps best that it didn’t try for a cleverer pun title.

In fact, not an awful lot about the movie really works all that well; you’ll find yourself ticking off the expected plot twists and character turns and though one or two of the action set-pieces (particularly one in a hardware store) are effective, it all comes across as a blandly pumped out exercise in genre pipeline fullfilment.

Script and Direction

Director Mouly Surya on the set of 'Trigger Warning'.

(Featured) Director Mouly Surya on the set of 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Karen Kuehn/Netflix ©2024.

John Brancato, Josh Olson and Halley Gross are the writers here and all three have certainly put out better work before: Brancato with ‘The Game’, Olson on ‘A History of Violence’ and Gross via TV series ‘Banshee’ and ‘Westworld.’ We suppose there are only so many variations on the ‘trained soldier comes home and must sort out criminal conspiracy’ storyline, but when the likes of ‘First Blood’ and even ‘The Equalizer’ trilogy exist, the likes of this pale by comparison.

It doesn’t help that, one or two flourishes aside, the screenplay is largely a collection of small-town cliches, characters painted in the broadest of terms and the various narrative twists easy to predict.

Director Mouly Surya, who has worked more in the dramatic thriller and Western genres, brings a relative slickness to the proceedings, though you find yourself wishing she’d sliced out some of the more glaring cliches in the script with the skill of Alba’s knife-wielding hero.

‘Trigger Warning’: Performances

A film like this doesn’t normally concern itself with top-tier acting, and indeed no one here is quite giving their all. But there are some turns worth talking about.

Jessica Alba as Parker

Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.'

Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.' Photo: Netflix ©2024.

Alba, who has mixed blessings when she’s tried her hand at action (‘Sin City’ is among the better examples), here manages to tackle the tough nut leading role with a solid if somewhat familiar performance. Her Parker is stereotypically distant from everyone, and withdrawn, but at least has convincing chemistry with the likes of Mark Webber’s Sheriff Jesse Swann and her Special Forces comrade Spider (Tone Bell).

And when it comes time to break out the guns, knives and explosives, she’s clearly put the work in to look like she knows what she’s doing (and let the stunt team handle the more dangerous moments). Parker is far from the most original main character you’ve ever met, but she’s also not a total void.

Mark Webber as Jesse

As the seemingly friendly local sheriff (not to mention Parker’s on-again-off-again beau), Webber steps out of his usual indie movie comfort zone for something much more straightforward. And initially, his character at least brings more to the story than some of the off-the-shelf villains Parker and he will encounter down the line.

Jake Weary as Elvis, Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel and Mark Webber as Jesse in 'Trigger Warning'.

(L to R) Jake Weary as Elvis, Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel and Mark Webber as Jesse in 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Netflix ©2024.

Jake Weary as Elvis Swann

The Senator’s other son is shown as miscreant from the moment you meet him, and honestly stays pitched at the same level through the whole movie. It’s not really Jake Weary’s fault –– some Oscar winners would have had trouble with this underwritten and uninspiring antagonist.

Anthony Michael Hall as Senator Swann

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel in 'Trigger Warning'.

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel in 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Netflix ©2024.

If you’re not immediately tipped off to the idea that the seemingly family values politician is a wrong ‘un from the minute you meet him, then we’d advise some sort of neurological treatment. Anthony Michael Hall does what he can with a thankless character –– Swann is all down-home charm until the real story is revealed –– but it’s not really enough to lift it out of base level effectiveness.

Tone Bell as Spider

Jessica Alba as Parker and Tone Bell as Spider in 'Trigger Warning.'

(L to R) Jessica Alba as Parker and Tone Bell as Spider in 'Trigger Warning.' Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

As Parker’s tech-savvy comrade, Bell makes the most of a small role, and at least give it more life beyond an exposition delivery service.

Final Thoughts

Jessica Alba as Parker on the set of 'Trigger Warning'.

(Featured) Jessica Alba as Parker on the set of 'Trigger Warning'. Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

Unlike ‘The Old Guard’, which at least had an interesting concept, ‘Trigger Warning’ seems doomed to follow ‘The Mother’s path: dumped onto Netflix’s servers to take up space and occasionally show up in the streaming service’s recommendations.

We’re sure there might be some initial surge of interest (the company loves to tout its initial viewing figures of movies and shows now it actually releases them), but don’t expect ‘Trigger Warning’ to show up on many Best Of lists come the end of the year. For that, critics would have to remember it exists, and it does little to help that cause.

‘Trigger Warning’ receives 5 out of 10 stars.

Trigger Warning

"Vengeance becomes her."
59
R1 hr 46 minJun 21st, 2024
Showtimes & Tickets

What is the plot of ‘Trigger Warning’?

A skilled Special Forces commando (Jessica Alba) takes ownership of her father's bar after he suddenly dies, and soon finds herself at odds with a violent gang running rampant in her hometown.

Who is in the cast of ‘Trigger Warning’?

Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel, Mark Webber as Jesse and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.'

(L to R) Anthony Michael Hall as Ezekiel, Mark Webber as Jesse and Jessica Alba as Parker in 'Trigger Warning.' Photo: Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

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