2 out of 5
Directed by: Matt Eskandari
This is a weird bad movie. I mean, I’m used to these quickly-made, low-budget, DTV-ish Emmett-Furla productions by now, since, as a Bruce Willis follower, it means I’ve “had” to watch like a dozen of these things, and they’re mix-and-match affairs that mimic any given rogue cop / heist gone wrong / vengeance tales that vary in watchability based on the energy offered by the actors and competence of the visuals… and (continuing this rambling sentence) ‘Trauma Center’ is no different in that regard, with some crooked cops hunting down a witness to their crookedness (Nicky Whelan), and having to tussle with good cop Bruce Willis along the way, but it’s still weird. It’s also bad, of course, in the way (almost) all of these flicks are, with Paul J. Da Silva’s script hardly holding together any logic for how these cops imagine they’ll be getting away with their pursuit of Whelan, and streeeeetching this barest of plots into 87 minutes by tons and tons of slowly paced conversations about nothing, and flashbacks to 20 minutes ago, but director Matt Eskandari has a kind of direct shooting style that’s fairly refreshing – the other productions from this team tend to favor a kind of trashy flashy look and vibe – and he actually gets Bruce to seem engaged for a good chunk of the flick, including action sequences! And then this lameass script has the semi-novel idea of isolating everything to a shutdown ward in a hospital, requiring Whelan to sort of Home Alone her way from room to room to delay her pursuers, and in doing so, the flick allows more glimmers of imagination and intelligence than its peers.
…At the same time, while Bruce has been more awake in his last few movies, it’s like he’s forgotten how to act in this one. His line reading is bizarrely wooden – and again, not like his “just here for the paycheck” self, but truly like he was trying, and just kept having brain farts on how to intone like a human, and the semi-novelty of the setup is painfully slowed down by those aforementioned stretches of nonsense dialogue exchanges, and painful ilogic of how this whole thing is playing out. Giving ‘Trauma Center’ an overall weird vibe, where it doesn’t always feel and look like the bad movie that it is, but it’s also undeniably that: a bad movie.