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Trigger Warning on Netflix
Screengrab via YouTube/Netflix

Struggling progeny of ‘First Blood’ and ‘John Wick’ breaks a Marvel alum’s silver screen solitude and grabs #1 on streaming in 76 countries

The hot streak of a bloody horror finally meets its match.

Sometimes, it seems like the world of cinema operates in a parallel universe where the opinions of critics orbit a distant star, light-years away from the gravitational pull of the general audience’s preferences.

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This cosmic anomaly becomes particularly evident when a film, lambasted by those with pens and keyboards, somehow manages to rocket up the charts of streaming platforms globally. Enter a movie that’s currently reigning supreme in the streaming world across 76 countries, including the UK (as per FlixPatrol). Despite sporting battle scars in the form of a 4.7/10 rating on IMDb and a dismal 24% on Rotten Tomatoes, this film has clinched the top spot on Netflix, ending the hot streak of Under Paris on the streamer.

And what, you may ask, is the name of this cinematic marvel? None other than Trigger Warning. Released on June 21, 2024, Trigger Warning was ambitiously compared to a cross between the classic Sylvester Stallone vehicle First Blood and the stylish Keanu Reeves franchise John Wick. The plot follows a skilled Special Forces officer (played by Jessica Alba) who takes over her late father’s bar, only to find herself embroiled in a turf war with a violent gang. The female-led script caught the eye of Thunder Road Films back in June 2016, stayed in development hell for four years, and later charmed Netflix enough for the streamer to snap it up in May 2020. The ingredients for a blockbuster seemed to be aligning but unfortunately, that’s where things started to fall apart.

The director, Mouly Surya, is an Indonesian filmmaker making her English-language debut with Trigger Warning. Now, transitioning from Indonesian cinema to Hollywood action is no small feat, and perhaps explains some of the mismatch in expectations and execution. Can we put all the blame on her, though? It’s hard to ignore the fact that the script was written by not one, not two, but three writers. It took John Brancato, Josh Olson, and Halley Gross to come up with a script that’s about as mindless and generic as they come. The action, while abundant and energetically executed by Jessica Alba, lacks the choreographic finesse and narrative integration that give the set pieces in films like John Wick their edge.

Worst of all, Trigger Warning was poised to be the grand re-entrance for our beloved Marvel alum. In the 2000s, Alba was everywhere — from the gritty streets of Sin City to the sandy shores in Into the Blue, and, of course, as the ever-resilient Sue Storm in Marvel’s Fantastic Four films. However, After her earlier successes, she shifted her focus somewhat away from acting to entrepreneurship. Her last film appearance came way back in 2019, in the action crime mystery Killers Anonymous. And before that? Well, let’s just say those didn’t exactly set the box office or critics’ hearts aflame (which is also the case this time).

Killers Anonymous managed to score the dreaded 0% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A 16% audience score on the same site doesn’t suggest much redemption from the public either. So, in the end, you can’t help but feel a little bad for Alba. As Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four movies, she helped pave the way for the current wave of female-led superhero films. Without her, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say we might not have had Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, or Black Widow.

But despite all of its flaws, Trigger Warning has still managed to capture the attention of viewers around the world, much like the expertly glued-together shattered sequel currently engaged in a tug-of-war with 2024’s most sensual romance on streaming. The question is how long will it manage to retain this crown.

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Omar Faruque
Omar is a seasoned writer specializing in all things entertainment. His approach to life and writing is the same: find the story in everything, and make sure to enjoy the ride. When not behind his keyboard, Omar is living his best life, whether that's channeling his inner superhero, trying to replicate anime recipes in his kitchen, or settling into his favorite coffee shop corner with a good book.