Trigger Warning Review – Netflix’s Jessica Alba Action Thriller Disappoints

The latest Jessica Alba film, Trigger Warning, is now streaming, but should you watch it?

Andrew Morgan What's on Netflix Avatar

Trigger Warning Netflix Movie Review

Picture: Netflix

In her first leading film role in several years, Jessica Alba takes center stage in Trigger Warning, an action-forward thriller that has taken quite a while to get to the small screen. Beginning principal photography in New Mexico on September 1st, 2021, the film went into reshoots in the fall of 2022 before being mired in post-production for an extended period of time.

Helmed by director Mouly Surya (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts) on a script from the trio of Josh Olson (A History of Violence), John Brancato (Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Terminator Salvation), and Halley Wegryn Gross (Westworld), the film focuses on Parker, a Special Forces commando on active duty overseas, who is called back to her hometown with the tragic news of her father’s sudden passing during a cave-in accident on their property.

Now the owner of the family bar, Parker reconnects with her former boyfriend-turned-sheriff Jesse (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’s Mark Webber), his hot-tempered brother Elvis (It Follows’ Jake Weary), and their powerful father Senator Swann (80’s superstar Anthony Michael Hall), as she looks to understand what actually happened to her dad.

Parker’s search for answers quickly goes south and she soon finds herself at odds with a violent gang running rampant in her hometown. Unsure of who she can truly trust, Parker draws on her commando training and proves herself a force to be reckoned with as she hunts down the truth and attempts to right what has gone wrong in Swann County, with the help of her covert ops partner and hacker Spider (Survival of the Thickest co-star Tone Bell) and connected local dealer Mike (The Night Agent star Gabriel Basso).

For Netflix and their audience, the green light and creation of this film seems rather simple: Female-led action films like J-Lo’s The Mother and Atlas or Gal Gadot’s Heart of Stone have seen sizeable viewing numbers; Jessica Alba’s show L.A.’s Finest is doing well with the Netflix bump after it landed on the platform in early 2021; and The Night Agent put Gabriel Basso on a bigger scale after it aired last year. Add that to shows like Amazon’s Reacher being atop the streaming charts and it seems like a logical conclusion.

Tw Unit 35979 R Jpg

Trigger Warning. Jessica Alba as Parker in Trigger Warning. Cr. Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

However, for everyone else who encounters this film, they might be asking how did this script get made and why would any name talent attach themselves to it. Everything about this movie rings false or, at best, a retread of familiar action tropes old and new.

Trigger Warning wants to be Walking Tall or season 1 small-town Reacher, but has none of the skill, charm, humor, or lead actor presence that those more successful projects had. Instead, the film feels far too self-serious, awkwardly political (correct pronunciation of “Latinx” and several racial slurs UGH), and lacking any emotional or physical impact from its A-plot or Alba in the lead.

Even though her CV has plenty of action, from her start on Dark Angel to Fantastic Four and the Machete films, Jessica Alba seems wildly miscast, even if she had very little to work with and few moments to prove herself. The best examples of female action stars have a similar set of skills to their male counterparts: commanding presence, general athleticism, and believability when they’re on the warpath. The modern examples – Charlize Theron, Michelle Yeoh, Most of the current female superheroes – all have some level of these qualities. Jessica Alba is slight in stature, robotic in her fighting approach, and lacks a level of “dog” that I’m willing to follow into the fight.

However, none of this truly matters if the pages don’t give us what we need. For a movie that tries to sell an emotional bond between father and daughter that makes this revenge plot work, it doesn’t even end with any final goodbyes or solemn gestures; instead, we get Parker leaving town with her partner and talking to Mike about picking out paint colors. The movie doesn’t even believe in itself, so why should we?

Trigger Warning Netflix Movie Everything We Know Jpg

Trigger Warning. (L-R) Jessica Alba as Parker and Tone Bell as Spider in Trigger Warning. Cr. Ursula Coyote/Netflix ©2024.

Overall, Trigger Warning is a watered-down copy of a tired action trope with a lackluster lead in Alba. As a character, Parker seems to have no vision, no logic to her actions, and always a step behind. It’s hard to believe Alba or her character as a leader, a badass, or an intelligence officer. With no plot twists, no nuance, and a lead character who doesn’t seem to care much for the town she is saving, it’s hard for anyone to latch on and enjoy the basics of modern action conventions.

Watch Trigger Warning If You Liked

  • The Mother
  • Heart of Stone
  • Machete
  • Walking Tall

MVP of Trigger Warning

Tone Bell as “Spider”

While most of the characters in this movie seemingly act like they’re in different movies all at the same time, actor/comedian Tone Bell knew the assignment and seemingly delivered with his role as “Spider”.

Many action films have the technical expert with a dramatic flare and this film is no different. As Spider, Bell gives us at least a modicum of spy-craft and hacker wizardry to give some respectability & spice to the mostly bland writing & characterizations around him.


Trigger Warning is as ineffective and awkwardly political as its title. A miscast Jessica Alba and a barely cohesive script don’t add up to much, even for the most casual fans of the genre.