Jessica Alba leaps back into action mode with ‘Trigger Warning’

Review by Brian Lowry, CNN

(CNN) — Jessica Alba hadn’t even turned 20 when she became an action star in the 2000 Fox series “Dark Angel,” which provides some context for her return to butt-kicking mode in “Trigger Warning,” the kind of Netflix movie that invariably lands atop (or at least near) its “most viewed” tier. Devoid of surprises, it’s an efficiently violent return for Alba after a lengthy acting hiatus, briefly interrupted by the cop show “L.A.’s Finest.”

Coming a few months after she stepped back from her other vocation as founder of The Honest Company, “Trigger Warning” essentially plays like a minor variation on the Dwayne Johnson remake of “Walking Tall,” which is to say, there’s nothing new here, and scant suspense about the contours of the plot.

Still, Alba comes armed with a steely attitude and strong revenge motivation as Parker, a Special Forces commando who – following a brief introduction in the field – gets summoned back to her hometown after her father’s death, which quickly appears to be more serious than an accidental mine-shaft cave-in.

In addition to the mine, dad ran the local watering hole, though Parker has little interest in taking over her inheritance. The longer she hangs around, though, the more suspicious she becomes, which is complicated by her history with the local sheriff (Mark Webber), the fact his brother (Jake Weary) looks to be up to no good and that their father (Anthony Michael Hall) is a conservative senator who asks rude questions like what “Latinx” means.

Parker also receives some help from one of her dad’s employees, Mike (“The Night Agent’s” Gabriel Basso), but eventually she’s going to have to Schwarzenegger her way through all this, having already exhibited a knack for close-quarters combat and wielding a knife.

Making her US debut, Indonesian director Mouly Surya brings a kinetic (if slightly repetitive) quality to the action for those weaned on the “John Wick” style of fight choreography, where stabbing or shooting someone once never quite seems to be good enough.

Alba credibly tackles that aspect, while portraying Parker as a grieving daughter (complete with gauzy flashbacks) to give her a bit more depth than the customary killing automaton.

Netflix has found a fertile niche by featuring promotable stars in such genre fare where reviews, frankly, don’t matter much, with Jennifer Lopez’s sci-fi adventure “Atlas” among the recent examples.

“Trigger Warning” might not be packing anything unexpected in the chamber, but for those who come to it with the proper mind-set, the movie doesn’t wind up firing blanks either.

“Trigger Warning” premieres June 21 on Netflix.


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