Trigger Warning Review

Jessica Alba’s first movie in over five years is a weak copy of John Wick-style action.

Last Updated on June 27, 2024

Trigger Warning review

Plot: Special Forces commando Parker is on active duty overseas when she gets called back to her hometown with the tragic news that her father has suddenly died. Now the owner of the family bar, Parker reconnects with her former boyfriend-turned-sheriff Jesse, his hot-tempered brother Elvis and their powerful father Senator Swann, as she looks to understand what actually happened to her dad. 

Review: It has been five years since Jessica Alba‘s last big screen role. While she led the Bad Boys spin-off L.A.’s Finest alongside Gabrielle Union the year after, Alba has spent the last half-decade working as Chief Creative Officer for The Honest Company, which she co-founded. While she recently stepped down from that role, her work on Trigger Warning goes back to 2021. The three-year road for Alba’s first leading role in a decade should indicate the quality of the finished product. Marketed as being an action flick in the vein of John Wick, Trigger Warning is a mediocre flick that feels like something Jason Statham would have passed over. Full of underdeveloped characters, repetitive action, and weak dialogue, Trigger Warning is yet another Netflix original that is not very good.

If the lack of marketing materials was not a clue as to the lack of quality in Trigger Warning, the fact that screeners were sent to critics less than twenty-four hours before it debuts on Netflix should tell you all you need to know about this action movie. From the outset, Trigger Warning opens with a bombastic chase sequence through a desert with Parker (Jessica Alba) in a truck pursued by terrorists. Parker has killed the bad guys after a crash and a brutal fight sequence. Chatting with her friend Spider (Tone Bell), Parker gets a phone call telling her that her father, Harry (Alejandro De Hoyos), was killed in a cave-in. Parker returns home to settle her father’s affairs by selling the family bar, Maria’s. Parker runs into her former boyfriend Jesse (Mark Webber), now sheriff of the quaintly named town of Creation. Parker also runs into family friend Mike (Gabriel Basso) and Jesse’s brother Elvis (Jake Weary). Elvis and Jesse are sons of Senator Swann (Anthony Michael Hall), a conservative politician with an iron grip on Creation, which should tell you what comes next.

Parker quickly realizes her father’s death was not an accident, and it involves Senator Swann and the local military base. Teaming up with Mike and reconnecting with Spider, Parker goes out for revenge for her father. Over the almost two-hour running time of Trigger Warning, Parker kicks ass as much as she gets her ass kicked and dispatches dozens of bad guys with everything from household objects to gunfire and more than a few with knives and a massive machete. Having appeared in Machete and Machete Kills, Jessica Alba is no stranger to action roles, but Trigger Warning boasts the most fight scenes the actress has participated in in her entire career. The action scenes are the highlight of this film, but even they begin to feel repetitive after Alba dispatches multiple thugs with the same blade slice to the neck. Most of the key action moments are used in the trailer, leaving over an hour for audiences to realize there is not all that much logic or depth to this revenge story.

Trigger Warning review

So much of Trigger Warning is nonsensical, which makes the title fairly apt. There seems to have been an attempt to make this a story about a Latinx female character who kicks the ever-loving piss out of a cowboy hat-wearing conservative politician. Still, it gets lost in a story full of nonsense that boils down to greed and greed alone. Anthony Michael Hall barely registers as the villainous Senator Swann, who makes a jab about what “Latinx” means, but it comes across as blatant and heavy-handed. A character calls Alba’s Parker a racial slur at one point, to which she expediently kills him without a second thought. This would have been a wonderful showcase in the early to mid-1990s, but it does not take advantage of the setting or skills that Alba brings to the table. Jessica Alba fits Parker’s role well, but the meandering plot undermines her quest for vengeance, and the ending fails to put a stamp on why we just spent two hours with these characters.

Written by John Brancato (Terminator 3, Terminator Salvation) alongside Josh Olson (A History of Violence) and Halley Wegryn Gross (The Last of Us: Part II, Too Old To Die Young), Trigger Warning feels like it would have been a vehicle for a mid-level action star twenty years ago but is so uneven that it had nowhere to end up other than Netflix. It also comes from director Mouly Surya, who has no experience helming an action movie with the films What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love and Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts to her credit. Alba and Surya may have been aiming for an unexpected angle to an action project. Still, even as a producer, Alba fails to find anything that amounts to a solid production here. The set design is somewhat better than that of other mediocre Netflix films from the last few years. Still, the bombastic and inappropriately epic score by Enis Rotthoff and the jerky cinematography from Zoe White are crippled by terrible editing from Chris Tonick and Robert Grigsby Wilson. No one seems to be the right fit for this project, with Alba coming close to being the only person in the right role.

Trigger Warning is not edgy enough to piss off either side of the political spectrum, nor is it engaging enough to warrant spending two full hours with. We have gotten unexpected action leads ranging from June Squibb to Bob Odenkirk and Bert Kreischer. Still, Alicia Vikander, Charlize Theron, and Anya Taylor-Joy have shown it is no longer shocking for an able-bodied young actress like Jessica Alba to kick ass. Netflix has found better projects like Trigger Warning with Jennifer Lopez in The Mother and Allison Janney in Lou. Both films are better constructed and more entertaining, even at a B-movie level. Trigger Warning is not even good enough to be called mediocre, and that is a shame for what seems to have been designed as Jessica Alba’s comeback as a lead. Avoid this one unless you want to see a bunch of rednecks getting killed and if you are not too worried about any semblance of a sensical plot.

Trigger Warning

NOT GOOD

4

Source: JoBlo.com

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.