Trigger Warning: Jessica Alba’s thriller is about as inflammatory as a cheese sandwich

Jessica Alba as Parker and Tone Bell as Spider in Trigger Warning
Jessica Alba as Parker and Tone Bell as Spider in Trigger Warning - Ursula Coyote/Netflix

Here is a prospective case for Lionel Hutz, the lawyer on The Simpsons who once filed a fraudulent advertising suit against The NeverEnding Story because the film’s story did, in fact, eventually end.

Despite its title, Trigger Warning is about as inflammatory as a ham and cheese sandwich. There are instalments of the Minions franchise more liable to épater the bourgeoisie than this thinly spread thriller from the production company behind the John Wick films, about an arms-dealing conspiracy in a small American town beside a (by all indications, very poorly guarded) military base.

Jessica Alba stars as Special Forces officer Parker, who flies home to said town from Syria when her father dies in dubious circumstances. The old man perished in a cave-in – which is suspicious, not only because he was a real cave guy (“he loved that damn cave,” Alba tuts in disbelief), but like his daughter, he was also a Green Beret, and therefore unlikely to have mishandled the explosives which were the apparent accident’s apparent cause.

Much of the town’s business revolves around a Bible-thumping local senator (Anthony Michael Hall) and his two adult sons: respectively, the local sheriff (Mark Webber) and a lairy scumbag (Jake Weary) with lots of surprisingly powerful weaponry to hand. After getting the lie of the land, Alba comes up with a theory as to what may have really happened to her dad. And then – well, the plot more or less parks itself, as the ensuring hour or so of investigations and fights prove her broadly correct.

Alba hasn’t had a lead role in a feature in a while so it would have been nice if this one had given her some texture or dazzle to play with, as Keanu Reeves had in the various John Wicks. Alas, this is pure filmmaking-by-paycheque: you can virtually hear the clock card machine crunching at the start of every scene, as cast and crew punch in dutifully for another shift.

The fight choreography by Eric Brown, who worked on the first three Wicks, is brisk and clean, but (one fun moment with a chainsaw aside) isn’t quite extravagant enough to be a selling point. Nor is the plot, which does little with its seasoned-soldier’s-homecoming premise – but then, when your opening war scene looks so digitally confected, battle trauma was always going to be a tough sell.

In fact, the one surprise here is how chipper Alba remains, even after machete-ing her way through a rabble of ne’er-do-wells. Green Beret or not, this would surely count as a gruelling ordeal – but she shrugs it off even quicker than most viewers will.


15 cert, 106 min. On Netflix from June 21