Trigger Warning Review

Trigger Warning
When her father dies in mysterious circumstances, Special Forces commando Parker (Jessica Alba) returns to her childhood home to run his bar. There, she discovers that there may be more to his death than meets the eye — and that it may have something to do with corrupt local politician Ezekiel Swann (Anthony Michael Hall).

by John Nugent |
Published on
Original Title:

Trigger Warning

First things first: Trigger Warning is a title that makes zero sense. That phrase could imply multiple meanings: a warning for potentially distressing viewing, or perhaps, more literally, an allusion to a gun trigger. Neither really relate in any meaningful way to this particular film. Instead, this is a kind of Road House meets Rambo wannabe, an action-thriller-Western that sadly never escapes the deep, forever-abiding sense that what you’re watching is largely mediocre and always derivative.

Trigger Warning

We open with a car chase through a desert in Syria, as terrorists chase down an American relief truck. One aid-worker leans out of the window and fires a few rounds off with a machine gun. “Do you think they know we’re not aid-workers?” ponders one of the characters. Immediately you know that this is perhaps not the kind of film to trade in geopolitical sensitivities.

Rarely does it skirt the slickness or the inventiveness of a John Wick.

One of those fake aid-workers is Parker: a principled, highly skilled Special Forces commando, played by Jessica Alba — her first starring role in half a decade. After a successful mission, Parker returns home to her New Mexico town to discover that her beloved father — who, when she was a child, offered her such pearls as, “Never carry a knife without sharpening it!” — has died in a tragic cave-in accident, and seems to have got mixed up with the wrong crowd. Cue a criminal conspiracy that goes all the way to the top (specifically, Anthony Michael Hall’s corrupt Senator) and a rip-roaring rampage of revenge, as Parker seeks to bring down the domestic terrorists who killed her pops.

Trigger Warning was originally shot way back in 2021. We can only speculate as to why it has taken this long to finally earn a release, but the evidence does not suggest it was due to years of rigorous, James Cameron-esque quality control. It comes from Thunder Road, the same production company behind the John Wick films, and shares a fight choreographer with those in the form of Eric Brown; admittedly, the action is perhaps the film’s best quality, Alba gamely throwing herself into the hand-to-hand combat with gusto. But rarely does it skirt the slickness or the inventiveness of a Wick.

The direction, from Indonesian filmmaker Mouly Surya, feels very routine and first-base. The cinematography, by Zoë White, has a made-for-television feel, beset by murky lighting — they seem to have literally shot huge portions of it in an actual cave — and iffy CGI or obvious green screens. The script, by John Brancato, Josh Olson and Halley Gross, offers a cliché virtually every other line (“Go! Finish the job!”). There is very little here to recommend except the flashes of action — and it’s not entirely easy to actually see that, when it happens.

An unremarkable and quickly forgettable B-movie. Jessica Alba makes a decent stab for John Wick’s particular brand of movie vengeance, but she needs better material than this.
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