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Film Review: Trigger Warning

Title: Trigger Warning

Director(s): Mouly Surya

Screenwriter(s): John Brancato, Josh Olson & Halley Gross

Studio: Thunder Road Films & Lady Spitfire

Released: 2024

Runtime: 1h 46m

Starring: Jessica Alba, Mark Webber, Jake Weary, Gabriel Basso, Anthony Michael Hall

Trigger Warning

The opening sequence establishes how skilled Parker (Jessica Alba) is as some sort of special/covert ops soldier. It also serves as a warning of what the rest of the film may be like. The visual effects are mediocre, which is fine given it’s that kind of production, but the sequence itself is contrived and flat. There is sniper cover from her team and then there isn’t… She’s good with guns but she loves the knife and… whatever.

The real story is when Parker is called home to the small town of Creation in New Mexico after her father Harry passes away. The town is run by an obviously corrupt Senator Ezekiel Swann (Anthony Michael Hall) who has two sons: Jesse (Mark Webber) is the older and more responsible one, also the town’s sheriff and Parker’s old flame; and Elvis (Jake Weary) is the younger troublemaker. Parker also has a pothead friend named Mike (Gabriel Basso).

In other words, it’s the “hero returns to small town possibly overtaken by thugs” premise. And, of course, maybe Harry’s death was no accident. If one wants a Taken or a John Wick clone, then one will be disappointed. It’s not a shootout starting from the 30-minute mark.

Parker suspects Elvis is up to no good and quietly keeps an eye on him. That is sensible and the plot follows her doing the whole spy thing but the mystery is just not that mysterious. The dramatic tension is non-existent. The audience, like Parker, may not know all the details but everyone knows who is involved and roughly what is going on.

Maybe the film is trying to avoid being a mere shoot ’em up but it would be better if it was. It’s way too long before Parker gets into revenge mode and actually demolishes people. By then, it’s too late.

Parker (Jessica Alba)
Parker (Jessica Alba)

Meanwhile, the dialogue is… well, ordinary, which is fine if the cast can sell it but it has trouble doing so. And that’s assuming all the Bud Light doesn’t annoy the viewer.

Visually, it is mostly not bad. It avoids being over-stylized, although there are some shots in which the focus seems off. (I am not sure if this is the way it was shot or the Netflix platform.) As for the action when there is any, like the opening sequence, it needs to make more sense and not have certain actions and positions that just conveniently favors the hero. The flow of the action, including the film editing, doesn’t work well enough.

Alba demonstrates that she is more than capable of leading an action flick so just give the woman lots of guns and ammo and get on with it. Of course, given that it’s Alba and there are arguably too many Taken or John Wick clones, it may be more fitting for her to lead a dark sci-fi/cyberpunk action fest that Dark Angel was not.


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