Trauma Center review – trash cinema at its worst or finest, it doesn’t really matter

By Marc Miller
Published: March 29, 2020 (Last updated: February 7, 2024)
Trauma Center review - trash cinema at its worst or finest, it doesn't really matter


This video-on-demand film should have been called Sleep Center because Bruce Willis appears to be sleepwalking throughout and it may induce a bout of narcolepsy.

I’m not sure what has happened to Bruce Willis’s film career, but if it weren’t on life support before, it would have to be now. His last half-dozen films make me think Hollywood has him on furlough — how could the father of the everyman action hero have fallen so far? Did he lose a bet? Blackmailed? Is he pledging a fraternity annually and being hazed into awful scripts? He’s falling into John Travolta-like lows with Trauma Center, a so laughable film that will cause sudden cataplexy.

Willis plays Detective Wake. A determined cop caught up in an internal investigation when he finds his criminal informant dead while at his place of business. It’s a trap, of course, and his partner Tony (Gotti’sTyler Jon Olson) is murdered next to the dumpster, where I can only assume they found the script. From there, two cardboard cut-out terrible guys (Texas Battle, Tito Ortiz), while shooting him down in cold blood, hit an innocent bystander, a waitress named Madison (InstaPsycho’s Nicky Whelan). She was taking out the trash and getting a  blurred look, from a distance, at them as she passed out from the bullet. Steve Gutenberg also plays an over-eager-to-please emergency room doctor, and he makes every syllable spoken look as difficult as the next.

Why is Trauma Center so bad? I could quote the film critic jibber-jabber of (sarcastic voice) “there is no reason for the film to exist” mantra, which is accurate as it offers no probative value on even what the genre knew as “trash cinema.” No real thrills, no it’s “so bad it’s good” Rob Schneider quality garbage — it’s just a hot steaming pile of it that you can’t undo or unsee. Every character is a needless stereotype (the grizzled cop versus the dirty one).

Steve Guttenberg and Nicky Whelan in Trauma Center (2019)

Every character action is dishonest (Madison won’t stay in the hospital overnight with her teenage sister because of “bad memories” — you know, which serves as the mindless McGuffin). There is also an abundance of fillers to move the scenes along, like the bad guys taking 15 minutes to close a floor down, so no one bothers; why not simply walk five feet into the room to finish the job.

Then there is the issue of not just thin but a practically translucent plot that makes zero sense. So, the motivation to kill Madison is to retrieve the bullet from her leg because of “ballistics,” yet they didn’t think to collect the 100 bullets from the crime scene or the dead detective body in the first place? The ones that they left because of the sirens closing in? They didn’t use a drop gun or untraceable weapon, to begin with? Then, finally, since no one knows who the killers are involved and has the evidence that could implicate them anyway, why even attack the detective who was using the informant in the first place when there isn’t a need to clean the slate?

Trauma Center is a trash cinema. At its worst or finest, it doesn’t matter. Its utterly useless, demonstrative take on the cop-thriller genre is a precious waste of time and resources. This video-on-demand film should have been called Sleep Center because Bruce Willis appears to be sleepwalking throughout Trauma Center. His performance will induce a bout of narcolepsy, along with the film’s script.

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