I Wanted More From Netflix’s Weak Jessica Alba Actioner Beyond Stereotypes


  • Mouly Surya’s direction elevates this weak script, making it visually appealing despite its shortcomings.
  • Alba is fine as an action star, but her performance is not nearly as charismatic as it should be.
  • Trigger Warning is filled with stereotypes, a slow pace, and a buildup that is disappointing.

Jessica Alba headlines Netflix’s latest JLo-coded actioner,

Trigger Warning (2024)

, from screenwriters John Brancato, Josh Olson, Halley Gross, and director Mouly Surya. The film follows Special Forces commando Parker (Alba) as she finds out about her father’s sudden death while being on active duty overseas. She returns home and becomes his bar’s owner, bringing her face-to-face with her former boyfriend and his troubling family, The Swanns. While this tension-filled reunion is difficult enough for the grieving daughter, Parker’s search for answers gets more dangerous as she faces a violent gang attempting to run her hometown with illegal weapons.

Trigger Warning (2024)


Mouly Surya


John Brancato
, Josh Olson
, Halley Wegryn Gross


Jessica Alba
, Mark Webber
, Anthony Michael Hall
, Alejandro De Hoyos
, Tone Bell
, Jake Weary
, Gabriel Basso
, Kaiwi Lyman


86 Minutes

It’s blatantly obvious the alarming opening sequence attempts to show Parker’s decent moral compass while establishing her relationship with her tech-savvy Special Forces partner Spider (Tone Bell). But we need to retire stereotypical and racist associations with the Middle East. There is a way to quickly and efficiently tell us Parker is good at her job without making nondescript Arabs the terrorists and scapegoats for a character’s foundation. Furthermore, there is an added layer to this sequence that foreshadows a deep-rooted military issue, and even that is done in a distasteful manner. It could’ve easily been reworked to convey the same message.

Effective Directing Cannot Mask Trigger Warning’s Outdated & Slow Script

As off-putting as the opening sequence was, Trigger Warning was off-step from beginning to end. The one area where it excels is Surya’s direction. Her approach does more to illustrate Parker’s persona than the writing, as Surya’s vision is calm, cool, and collected, even when things are getting violent. Working closely with cinematographer Zoë White, the duo does wonders to lift this story and make the experience feel a lot more sturdy than it actually is. The color palette is engaging and critical to crafting the film’s atmosphere, and Surya doesn’t take any cheap shots, with every frame designed with care and consideration.

The dialogue is far from compelling, the villains are obvious and uninteresting as they are copy-and-paste archetypes, and the action is sadly inconsistent.

There is gravitas in the filmmaking process that is not reflected in the action script. The score by Enis Rotthoff is a touch too much at times, especially when Surya’s shots so clearly convey Parker’s state of mind, grief and anger, but even then, I can appreciate that the score is doing something to engage with the story. As good as Surya’s directing is, the script lags, making the film feel needlessly slow. And what should feel like a deliberate and calculated jog to the third act instead feels like the screenwriters are dragging their feet.

The dialogue is far from compelling, the villains are obvious and uninteresting as they are copy-and-paste archetypes, and the action is sadly inconsistent. Trigger Warning tries to hold space for a meaningful story about the dangers of American politicians who claim to care about the safety of their people yet invite crime into their beds. Corruption is the core of this story, yet there is not much done with it beyond saying these people are immoral, and Alba’s Parker will mess them up — a lot.

Jessica Alba Is A Capable Actress Who Is Underserved By Trigger Warning’s Generic Script

Alba is a fine actress, and as someone who has long wished for the return of Dark Angel in some form or another, seeing Alba jump into the action bag is honestly very nice. While she looks the best she ever has on camera, the acting leaves a lot to be desired. She isn’t a bad actress, just one who needs the material to suit her, and the script does very little for her besides set her up for some pretty convincing action sequences.

When Trigger Warning’s script was acquired, the desire was to produce a female-led cross between Sylvester Stallone’s First Blood and Keanu Reeves’ John Wick, two action-driven films that adapted to their lead actors. Trigger Warning in no way makes me feel like Alba was at the front of the filmmakers’ minds, though Surya’s framing clearly valued the actress. Trigger Warning ultimately felt no different from any of the recent Jennifer Lopez actioners on Netflix. Watching something that doesn’t make me feel like the lead is irreplaceable is disappointing.

…Alba, a capable actress, is not nearly as charismatic as the middling script requires her to be.

The film’s ensemble is good, delightful even, but no one wowed me, and even Anthony Michael Hall couldn’t muster up anything compelling as Senator Swann. Surprisingly, Netflix’s The Night Agent star Gabriel Basso emerges as a real winner as Parker’s friend and aspiring weed entrepreneur. He isn’t the most charismatic, but some of his lines and delivery earned a chuckle or two from me. Additionally, the chemistry between Alba and Basso was palpable — it made me want a reunion at a later point.

I appreciate Trigger Warning for wanting to be an insightful yet exciting action thriller — one that is equal parts a cautionary tale about bad actors in politics, how ever-present racial tensions are in rural America, and a story about a woman seeking truth and revenge. However, it’s not snappy or kinetic in execution. Much like The Mother, Trigger Warner is all setup with little payoff. The emotional sentiments are effective but drawn out in uninteresting ways, and Alba, a capable actress, is not nearly as charismatic as the middling script requires her to be.

Trigger Warning is now streaming on Netflix.

Special Forces commando Parker (Jessica Alba) 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, she looks to understand what actually happened to her dad.


  • Mouly Surya’s talents makes a weak script look really good
  • Jessica Alba is a convincing action star and looks great
  • Zoë White’s cinematography elevates the film greatly

  • A weak script that relies on tropes and archtypes
  • Not enough action to balance out the sombre tone
  • The story doesn’t seem tailored to it’s star

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