Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning
Original title:Trigger Warning
Director:Mouly Surya
Running time:106 minutes
Release date:23 june 2024
A former serviceman, who fought in the war, takes over her grandfather's bar shortly after his death and soon confronts the violent gang that killed him.

Mulder's Review

Trigger Warning, directed by Mouly Surya, marks Jessica Alba's return to the action genre, blending elements of a revenge thriller and a small-town film noir. The story follows Parker, a special forces commando played by Jessica Alba, who returns to her hometown after the mysterious death of her father. While taking over her father's bar, Parker finds herself embroiled with her former boyfriend, Sheriff Jesse, and his dubious family, the Swanns, while battling a violent gang that threatens her town with illegal weapons.

The film opens with an intense action sequence designed to establish Parker's moral compass and his partnership with Spider, played by Tone Bell. However, the stereotypical portrayal of Middle Eastern terrorists detracts from the film's authenticity and provides an unpleasant introduction. The sequence attempts to highlight deep-seated military issues, but does so clumsily, missing the opportunity to present a more nuanced perspective.

Despite this unsettling opening, Mouly Surya's direction stands out throughout the film, offering a calm and composed vision, even during the most violent scenes. Working with cinematographer Zoë White, Mouly Surya creates a visually engaging film, with a critical color palette that reinforces the film's atmosphere. Each image is designed with care and consideration, lifting the story and making the experience feel more substantial than the script allows.

Jessica Alba, though physically adept, struggles with a script that doesn't showcase her range as an actress. Jessica Alba's portrayal of Parker is convincing, particularly in the action sequences, but the lackluster script does little to enhance her performance. Alba is clearly capable, recalling her Dark Angel days, but the material doesn't provide the depth she needs to shine.

The film's secondary cast includes Anthony Michael Hall as Senator Swann, a corrupt politician with a sinister agenda, and Gabriel Basso as Parker's friend Mike, a local stoner and aspiring pot entrepreneur. The chemistry between Gabriel Basso and Jessica Alba adds a layer of depth to the film, bringing much-needed levity amid the tension. On the other hand, Hall struggles to bring convincing nuance to his role, often coming across as a caricature of the archetypal corrupt senator.

Trigger Warning aims to tackle important themes such as political corruption, the dangers of American politics and racial tensions in rural America. The screenplay, written by John Brancato, Josh Olson and Halley Gross, attempts to provide space for these meaningful discussions, but fails to do so. The dialogue is far from convincing, the villains are obvious and uninteresting, and the action sequences are incoherent. The story revolves around the corruption and immorality of the Swann family, but fails to explore these themes beyond superficial proclamations.

Enis Rotthoff's music, though occasionally intrusive, attempts to add emotional weight to Parker's journey of grief and revenge. But even the score can't fully compensate for the script's shortcomings. As good as Mouly Surya's direction is, the script drags on, making the film unnecessarily slow. What should be a deliberate, calculated build-up to the third act instead feels like the screenwriters dragging their feet.

Despite its flaws, Trigger Warning strives to be a meaningful action thriller. Moury Surya's direction and Zoe White's cinematography do wonders to enhance the film visually. The color palette is appealing and essential to creating the film's atmosphere, and Surya doesn't take any cheap shots, with each image designed with care and consideration. The film's visual style contrasts sharply with the shortcomings of the narrative, highlighting Surya's potential as an action director.

Although the film as a whole is competent, none of the performances is particularly memorable. Anthony Michael Hall, despite his potential to bring gravitas to the role of Senator Swann, delivers a flat, uninspired performance. Gabriel Basso, on the other hand, brings some charm and humor to his role, making him a standout in an otherwise forgettable cast.

Trigger Warning is ultimately a missed opportunity. The film had the potential to be a feminine cross between First Blood and John Wick, but it fails to deliver. The story gets bogged down in a script that lacks nuance and depth, making the film feel more like a generic action thriller than a meaningful exploration of its themes. Jessica Alba's return to the action genre is commendable, but the film's generic script and incoherent pacing detract from its impact.

The film fails to make a narrative statement. Mouly Surya's direction and Zoe White's cinematography elevate the film visually, but the script's shortcomings prevent it from reaching its full potential. Jessica Alba's performance is competent, but the material doesn't give her the depth she needs to shine. In the crowded field of action thrillers, Trigger Warning leaves no lasting impression, as soon as it's discovered it's forgotten.

Trigger Warning
Directed by Mouly Surya
Written by John Brancato, Josh Olson, Halley Gross
Produced by Basil Iwanyk, Erica Lee, Esther Hornstein
Starring Jessica Alba, Anthony Michael Hall
Cinematography : Zoë White
Edited by Chris Tonick, Robert Grigsby Wilson
Music by Enis Rotthoff[
Production companies : Thunder Road Films, Lady Spitfire
Distributed by Netflix
Release date : June 21, 2024 (United States, France)
Running time : 106 minutes

Viewed on June 21, 2024 on Netflix

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