Directed by Matt Eskandari
A witness to a crime with a bullet in her leg is chased by the corrupt cops behind it all.
If you are expecting an action-oriented film with lots of Bruce Willis when deciding to watch this then keep moving. His name looks to be attached mostly to trick you into thinking just that and honestly his scenes feel as if they were filmed after everyone else completed their work. They perhaps filmed scenes from behind with body doubles and spliced him in. I had a similar vibe with a Nick Cage film called Between Worlds.
There are two or three shots in the entire film (I am being generous in that guess) where it is clear he is on the set at the same time in the same location as whoever his character is supposed to be talking to you but the rest of the time it appears as if they use body doubles and edited together things later poorly.
Willis is cast as Lt. Steve Wakes who is a good cop trying to bring down a group of corrupt cops. On the whole his performance is really halfhearted. He is going through the motions and not even really trying to bring ANYTHING to his character. He is not hardboiled or jaded or by the book. He is just there, and his voice sounds as if he is asking “Why am I here?” I question if Willis even studied his dialogue before he showed up or just simply perused the scene and winged it. He had the check in hand and did not care maybe. Or his appearance here was the result of a bet gone horribly wrong.
Rather than center on the known commodity, the story centers on Australian actress and model Nicky Whelan as Madison Taylor. Her character is really just all huffing and puffing and strained looks and because of her injuries she moves rather slowly which is authentic but this is an action film and authenticity is not always good for keeping the energy up.
Madison has a sister named Emily (Catherine Davis) and a best friend whose presence comes and goes in a flash. The sister is definitely important to the story only because the disability that puts Emily into the hospital where Madison winds up after getting shot is key to the resolution of the film. The best friend is only seen at the beginning of the film during a phone conversation and factors in not at all during the rest of the movie.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Tito Ortiz plays the corrupt Det. Pierce and actor Texas Battle plays the equally corrupt Sergeant Tull. Battle was a good bad guy muscle character, but Ortiz felt as villainous as the late Don Knotts on Three’s Company.
Steve Guttenberg shows up briefly as a doctor treating Madison and it looks like his work was actually done with her on the set with him. Yes, this film includes the megastar power of Steve Guttenberg who is bordering on physically unrecognizable these days. Has he been in anything really recently? I thought he had retired or something. In general, the two better names here felt like they were doing this for a check and just wanted it over.
For a trauma center there is not a lot going on inside here. In fact, the whole place looks fairly uninhabited. I understand that according to the story there is damage from Hurricane Maria but the level of inactivity in the building seems incongruous to the few establishing shots on the exterior. And the external aerial shots show the surrounding area to be a ghost town.
The film is set in San Juan, Puerto Rico but it is not until 2/3 of the way into the film that you see any Latinos. Even the people in the background are Caucasian. And I would not fault you for not getting the location of this film if you missed that one brief instance outside at the police station that clearly identified the locale. Say it is happening in Miami or do a better job of communicating location.
While the two villains are from vice, they are still experienced police officers or come off like they are. They fail to grasp the obvious about their actions. Everything they do after arriving at the hospital just creates more witnesses that would connect them either to the girl or the crime they are trying to cover up. They after all involved hospital security in their plot via a lie before considering taking care of the detective that is watching over our female lead. There is even a doctor (Steve Guttenberg) that knows the girl has evidence IN HER LEG! The villains are morons.
The action in Trauma Center is slow and dare I say uninteresting. It builds up no tension as the characters often lumber around after each other or away from each other. What should be exciting never rises above “meh.”
Trauma Center is not a good thriller and not even a disposable action film. I would call it boring. Skip it!