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Trigger Point (2021) Review

Trigger Point was directed by Brad Turner (24, The Shannara Chronicles), written by Michael Vickerman (The Haunting of Sorority Row, Target Earth) and stars Barry Pepper (Battlefield Earth, Crawl), Colm Feore (Beast Within, The Prodigy), Eve Harlow (Next, Lost After Dark), Jayne Eastwood (Dawn of the Dead, Anything for Jackson), Carlo Rota (Trespassers, Brick Mansions), Nazneen Contractor (Spiral, Star Trek Into Darkness), Karen Robinson (Corner Gas: The Movie, Schitt’s Creek) and Laura Vandervoort (Bitten, See For Me). It follows an ex-CIA agent who’s tasked with finding his handler’s daughter while clearing his name for the mistake that made him quit years ago.

The Plot: It’s not the most difficult task to put together a competent action/thriller movie plot, especially if the protagonist has a murky past. Trigger Point’s plot is competent if nothing else, going through several familiar motions to create a movie aiming for modest success and achieving it through slight cliché dodges and passable world-building.

A year after hitwoman Snow (Vandervoort) takes out CIA affiliates, Nicolas’s (Pepper) secluded and routine-filled life in which he goes to the same restaurant to talk to waitress Janice (Contractor) and shop owner Irene (Eastwood) every day is upended by the arrival of his ex-handler Kane (Feore), his man Dwight (Rota) and his announcement that Kane’s daughter Monica (Harlow) has been taken hostage by Quentin (Robinson). Monica thought that Quentin knows who Snow is, and who cracked Nicolas for the names of the people Snow recently killed.

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With his new life under threat, Nicolas is out to save Monica, find who broke him and kill them. Vickerman takes a little extra time to set up the world, how the CIA knows where Nicolas is, that informants litter the state, and the world isn’t straight. All of this makes for an above-average story, it’s just a shame that the movie opts not to conclude it, instead of leaving threads unfinished for potential sequels when the runtime is so short, and the opportunities are so rich. Would a sequel work? Yes. Did Trigger Point have to leave the audience hanging for the sake of one? Absolutely not.

The Characters: Trigger Point boasts a fleshed-out lead character in Nicolas, who may not even be Nicolas. The CIA has had him go through plenty of training, plenty of names, and plenty of enemies. He’s jaded and doesn’t want to get anywhere close to the world he left behind but elects to stay in the country because he understands the thought process the agency has. Nicolas is a deliberate man who takes into account everything and everyone in his surroundings, from shooting off glances in every direction to fast responses to loud noises, to consider the necessity of his acquaintances. The perfection at nearly everything can be a bit much at times, but Nicolas is a good character regardless.

Supporting players in the movie are initially less interesting in every way, with Kane being the only one who stuck his neck out for Nicolas when he gave up information, yet still doesn’t quite trust him; to his eventual turnaround. Monica is marginally more developed, since it’s said and fairly apparent that she grew up to be more like Nicolas than Kane in her profession in her cunning and straightforwardness. Irene and Janice don’t seem like much but add to the world and to Nicolas since he has uses for them. Nicolas is a solid hero, but Quentin is a blank villain and Kane and Monica are too familiar to be as interesting.

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The Thrills: Most of the beats in Trigger Point don’t come from action scenes, they come from the distrust that Nicolas has for everyone but Irene and Janice. With the way the world is introduced, with agents roaming the streets and interacting with civilians without them knowing it, the movie goes a fair distance. It’s when the movie shows more of its hand that it goes the route of predictability.

A major twist is made out of certain allegiances, and to be fair the movie does lull the audience into a sense of security with efficiency, but when Nicolas gets halfway through his mission and ends up at a greenhouse, the air of mystery dissipates. Once Nicolas confirms what it seems he already knew, Turner switches gears and focuses more on gunfights than on questioning and swift walking and trite dialogue. A wise move in the grand scheme as the movie is largely inactive in the literal sense.

However, the action that the movie spends so long building to is subpar at best and despite one encounter that Kane has with one of the two people that Nicolas talks to, the movie hardly boils. It’s a disappointing outcome that somewhat sullies the good work to get there.

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The Technics: Among the hundreds of low-budget action/thrillers, Trigger Point is one of the more visually appealing, thanks to cinematographer Brett Van Dyke and the locations used in the movie. It’s uncommon that a movie like Trigger Point is set in somewhere like upstate New York, but it’s more than welcome as the town at the center looks quiet, yet modern like the movie itself. Turner capably directs through the more formulaic parts, but Vickerman’s script, sound as it is, gives perhaps too much quiet time in the second act; and with a strong/silent type like Nicolas at the forefront there’s ample opportunity to dwell on the similarities to other movies of the ilk.

Barry Pepper and Colm Feore carry Trigger Point through familiar territory with ease. It’s far from original and farther still from greatness thanks to iffy pacing and a slap in the face of an ending, but the thrills and mystery element provide enough mileage to keep the movie going. If there is a sequel, it should lean farther into action, but the movie we get is good enough.

Trigger Point is available on Digital, DVD and Blu-ray from Screen Media.


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