One Night in a Gown

Bruce Willis barely tries in Trauma Center. Capable an actor as he is, Willis line reads this part. He’s a lonely cop in Puerto Rico, caught up in a corrupt departmental scheme. The death of his partner leads him to a witness, and then a cordoned off hospital floor to protect said witness. Seems worthy of emotion; tough guy Willis never sheds a tear though.

Trauma Center belongs to Nicky Whelan. This is her movie. On the run from killer cops who know she saw their crimes, she conveys distress and pain. She’s shot, admitted to the hospital for a leg wound, stacking things against her.

This comes in addition an emotional toll – her mother recently died, her younger sister exhibiting teenage rebellion under Whelan’s care. Ignore the relationship’s faults (the age difference is enough to reach the edges of plausibility). Instead, Trauma Center finds a small core to draw from as needed. The stress of being a single parent/guardian, working double shifts, and now on the run piles on.

Trauma Center dabs in enough character development to set things in motion

It’s not complex, but Trauma Center is fast – only 80-minutes. Two chiseled killers (Tito Ortiz, Texas Battle) make for an imposing visual too, charging this routine thriller. Expect typical chases and close escapes, cell phones without signals, plus shots of Whelan crawling toward a weapon her enemies can’t see for reasons unknown.

Trauma Center is of the “don’t think too hard” genre, where logic gaps tend to harm the central story. Editing confuses or accidentally misdirects, the amateurish, sloppy construction expected in direct-to-video material.

Credit is due in working through a small budget. The (mostly) probable scenario is enough to keep things locked down, winding through a single hospital floor. That helps disguise the limited funds. The first 15-20 minutes, Trauma Center dabs in enough character development to set things in motion. It’s either action or tension from there. Whelan fights to survive for herself, much as for her remaining family, turning into a heroine when her frustrations boil over. Trauma Center lets her character explode with fury as stress reaches a breaking point; she’s done taking a beating, physically or mentally.

Video

Low light noise creeps into the image at times. Otherwise, digital cinematography maintains clarity. Fair resolution keeps detail flowing, resolving facial definition in the darker hallways that make up Trauma Center.

Banding looks severe in the opening moments, calming down to almost nothing afterward. Even in misty/smoky spots, compression keeps this presentation pure. With mundane black levels, that’s a challenge, yet no blocking shows in lighter shadows. This is helped with strong contrast, pushing dimensionality to a pleasing peak.

In the early going, color brightly saturates to give the Puerto Rican scenery richness. Once tension rises, a heavily graded blue/teal dominates. That coats the images, limiting the palette by design.

Audio

Stock soundtrack stings use the full range. That’s the beefiest part of this DTS-HD track. Gunshots and other action elements ignore the low-end.

Surrounds play a part only as needed. A gunshot or two pops up in the rears, and PA announcements fill the soundstage. Trauma Center is small and contained enough as to never demand heavy audio.

Extras

Just trailers.

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Trauma Center
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Movie

Bruce Willis barely matters in Trauma Center, letting Nicky Whelan take the key role in this routine if marginally satisfying thriller.

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