by Rob DiCristino
Awards season is over! The votes have been counted, the lists have been made, and that can mean only one thing: It’s time to get back to The Box. First up for 2020 is Trauma Center, a cat-and-mouse police thriller starring Nicky Wheelan (Hall Pass, The Wedding Ringer) as a young woman caught in the crossfire as Bruce Willis (Air Strike, First Kill) searches for his partner’s killers. Set in San Juan, Puerto Rico (a place where, according to Willis’ Steve Wakes, everyone comes to “run from ghosts”), Trauma Center starts cooking when Wheelan’s Madison wakes up in a hospital bed with a bullet wound in her leg and Detective Wakes hovering over her, looking for answers. It turns out that Madison had recently paid the price for running into two corrupt cops (Texas Battle and Tito Ortiz) doing corrupt cop things. Wakes sets off to find the perpetrators, not knowing that they’re on their way to the hospital to finish the job. Now, Madison must retrieve her sister (Catherine Davis) and escape before her time runs out.
I think it is. I also think that Bruce Willis was paid by the minute on this one, because his line deliveries are carefully enunciated and drawn out so far that they almost come to a complete stop. It’s not quite accurate to say he’s sleepwalking (though the irony of him playing a character named “Wakes” is not lost on me), but it might be fair to say he’s delivering lines with the kind of deliberate precision that suggests he’s Telling You For The Last Time. Wakes has no backstory, so it all reads as a completely inexplicable choice on Willis’ part. Maybe he’s hangry? It’s hard to tell. He does light up briefly in one of two scenes he shares with Wheelan, though: Consoling her as she lays in her hospital bed, Wakes programs his number into her cell phone and reminds her to call him — not 911 — if anything goes wrong. It’s a slick enough move that I almost wonder if Willis thought it was Wheelan’s actual cell phone. It almost gets Madison killed, of course, because the two Bad Cops are hot on her tail as Wakes is out on street corners shouting “Bag it and tag it!” at random extras, but she does a nifty trick with a defibrillator and ends up shooting a guy just fine on her own.