Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Self-Quarantine Viewing: Trauma Center

Calling it “Die Hard in a hospital” gives it too much credit, but at least it stars Bruce Willis. That means the super-prolific star of almost-straight-to-DVD thrillers is now starting to rip himself off. However, his character will spend most of the film on the streets, doing police stuff. That leaves an injured witness to fend for herself when crooked cops come to kill her in Matt Eskandari’s Trauma Center, now available on DVD and VOD, the kind of film that could have self-quarantiners asking: “what the heck was that?”

San Juan Police Det. Wakes’ snitch has just been killed by the ring of dirty cops he was about to expose. His moronic partner soon follows him into permanent early retirement. However, there is a witness, Madison Taylor, whose rebellious sister Emily has also been admitted, following a nasty asthma attack (potential hostage alert). Shock has obscured Taylor’s memory of the attack, but the shooters will still come after her, because meat-headed Det. Pierce lodged a traceable bullet in her leg. (They also pumped several rounds into Wakes’ partner, but supposedly those were carefully fired to obliterate against hard surfaces—or something like that.

Wakes moves Taylor to the infectious disease floor for safe keeping (that will be a red herring for hyper-conscious viewers mindful of the Wuhan virus—which did indeed originate in Wuhan). Unfortunately, Pierce and the slightly smarter Sgt. Tull flash their badges and lock down the floor. The cat-and-mouse business proceeds from there.

The weird thing about these slapped-together films is how good Willis is in them. Maybe it helps that his screen-time is comparatively limited, but he is still the only one who really shows any star power. Regardless, everyone would surely agree nobody better represents Puerto Rico than Bruce Willis and Nicky Whelan. They must have some boffo film production tax incentives there.

To be fair, Whelan does a decent job of portraying Tylor’s development from freaked out victim to empowered action heroine. Texas Battle and Tito Ortiz certainly look thuggish as Tull and Pierce, but nobody would confuse them for criminal masterminds. For extra added randomness, Steve Guttenberg (Mahoney in Police Academy 1 through 186) pops up briefly as the guilt-tripping Dr. Jones.

So basically, screenwriter Paul Da Silva invites us to question the competency of Puerto Rico’s health care and law enforcement. That should help hasten their recovery. It is not a great film by any measure, but at least Eskandari executes with professional competency. We’ve seen worse. Right, so that is what this is. If you’re really bored, Trauma Center is currently available on DVD and VOD.