Story: Madison (Nicky Whelan) was heading home after a shift at her diner when she crossed paths with a violent standoff. Two crooked cops, Pierce (Tito Ortiz) and Tull (Texas Battle) are hunting down an internal affairs investigator, but in the process of shooting their intended target, a bullet hits Madison, though she is able to escape alive. Now she is in a hospital and under the protection of Lt. Wakes (Bruce Willis), who happens to be the partner of the murdered detective, so he is going to do whatever it takes to make sure justice is served. After he promptly leaves and has a rookie cop watch the door, Pierce and Tull arrive at the hospital and seek a specific piece of evidence, the bullet in Madison’s leg that can tie the crooked cops to the crime scene. With the hospital mostly empty and two murderers on the hunt, can Madison somehow survive and take down the dirty cops?
Entertainment Value: Trauma Center will likely feel familiar if you’ve explored the direct to video resume of Bruce Willis, as much of the talent on both sides of the camera are veterans of Bruce’s lower profile, lower budget projects. I find most of Willis’ work from this period to be watchable, but forgettable, though Trauma Center offers more entertainment than most. I say that because the writing is awful and the performances are lackluster, but both of these elements make Trauma Center stand out from the pack, since there is some b movie magic at times. I wouldn’t call it a future cult classic by any means, but there is enough unintentional silliness and inexplicable moments to earn some laughs and entertainment, which easily puts this above most of Willis’ later work. The narrative is not good and asks us to make an insane suspension of disbelief around a lot of plot movements, which I found hilarious, but those wanting a serious thriller might be not be as, well…thrilled. The pace is fine and the corny dialogue and phoned in performances add some fun, though the conclusion has to be the highlight, as Bruce delivers some terrible lines in terrible fashion. I had a decent time with Trauma Center, so if you like laughable thrillers or just have to see all of Bruce’s movies, you could do worse.
As with all of these direct to video Bruce Willis productions, I assume the main interest is drawn from Willis’ fans, who will likely be forgiving of the actor’s efforts in them. Trauma Center starts off well for Willis, as he seems more engaged than usual and shows some energy in early scenes, though that is all short lived here. But it was nice to see him dial up his performance and bring some energy, so I think his fans will appreciate that. Once Bruce arrives at the hospital, it is more business as usual and he phones in his lines, some of which are outlandish. I already mentioned the movie’s finale, which finds Bruce given a couple lines that are horribly written and don’t feel natural at all in the moment. Willis delivers those lines with a deadpan, monotone approach and I have to admit, I found it to be hilarious and the absurdity of it nearly redeemed the entire picture. Nicky Whelan is passable in the lead, but Steve Guttenberg steals the show in a brief appearance. I was interested to see former MMA star Tito Ortiz here, while a few Willis-verse regulars appear as well, such as Texas Battle, Lala Kent, and Tyler Jon Olson.