THE TRIGGER EFFECT
Far better than any of David Koepps screenplays however have been the opportunities Koepp has had to direct his own material. He has only done so upon five occasions to date beginning with The Trigger Effect and passing through the medium film Stir of Echoes (1999), the Stephen King adaptation Secret Window (2004), the comedy Ghost Town (2008), the non-genre thriller Premium Rush (2012) and the comedy Mortdecai (2015). At least the first three of these are excellent and underrated films. Alas they did only modest to, in the case of The Trigger Effect, little business at the box-office. It may well be that the very qualities that make a David Koepp film excellent intelligence, subtle effect and a lack of over-the-top star power is what has prevented him from having any blockbuster successes to date.
One didnt know what to expect from The Trigger Effect and in seeing it it was a surprise to find what a good film it is. As the title suggests, it is a film about the prejudices and hotheadedness that comes to the fore when the veneer of civilization falls away. David Koepp conducts a potent examination of such a pressure-cooker situation. [He was purportedly inspired by The Monsters are Due on Maple Street (1960), an episode of the original The Twilight Zone (1959-64), where the inhabitants of a suburb are driven to paranoia and fear after an inexplicable powercut (caused by invading aliens)].
The Trigger Effect is strikingly well written. With the exception of a forced happy ending, the film is notable for David Koepps refusal to give into easy moralizing. If Koepp were to have cast someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis in the lead, the film would undoubtedly have been filled with gun-toting macho heroism as the star led the survivors to safety. Instead, The Trigger Effect turns every expectation that a standard action film might make inside out a thief breaks into the house and is shot but turns out to have been unarmed; Kyle MacLachlan and Dermot Mulroney get scared and react thinking the worst when they see that Michael Rooker has a gun in his belt but after Mulroney is shot it turns out all Rooker wanted was a ride; a tense Mexican standoff between Kyle MacLachlan and Richard T. Jones is suddenly defused when his daughter walks into the room.
The Trigger Effect is a film about when the mentality behind the gun lobby and the belief in the constitutional right to self-protection goes disastrously out of control the gun control lobby could surely not ask for a better endorsement. Koepp is scathing about the mentality of self-interest there is one particularly potent scene where Kyle MacLachlan walks away in disgust from a neighbourhood group that talk about banding together but where none of them are prepared to use their cars as a blockade or share their generators. Koepp wants to make a plea for a greater understanding and cooperation between people in society although his ending comes as slightly falsely because he sees the dramatic breakthrough in the film as two strangers coming to trust one another, with the restoration of civilization coming as fairly much an afterthought to this.
David Koepp does a particularly good job directing. The violence comes with shattering effect and scenes like the sudden appearance of the gun in the dead mans hand or the standoff with Michael Rooker and the break-in to Richard T. Joness house are suspensefully handled. The cast all give fine performances.