Review: ‘Intensive Care’ (Stunt Person: the Movie)

Remember those old “A-Team” television plots where the good guys give the bad guys a ridiculous number of chances to kill them because the show had to run the full hour?

Alex (Tara Macken) has made the hard decision to get out of the special ops business and settle down as a caregiver to sickly retiree Claire (Leslie Easterbrook). Opportunist Danny (Jai Rodriguez) has burned through his trust fund and is looking for an easy score. Seth and Rudy (Kevin Sizemore and Jose Rosete) are a pair of thugs who go in with Danny to knock over Claire’s safe for the cash they believe she has locked away. To minimize damage, Danny turns up the charm and lures Alex away for a cheap date… to which she inexplicably agrees. What the hell is really going on here?

If you know stunt people and their work (still a tragically missing awards opportunity from the big shows), you’ve probably seen Tara Macken kicking ass before — even if you didn’t know it was her. From “Teen Wolf” to “Agents of SHIELD” and Marvel film work to HBO’s “Westworld,” it was probably her doing the gravity-defying flipping leg and hand-to-hand combat moves you saw, sometimes uncredited. One has to wonder: in a current Hollywood climate where superheroes have taken over theaters, is there room for a stunt person to simply appear as themselves instead of making everyone else look good?

As a lead actress, Macken appears able to hold her own given nothing too dramatic, but this particular film plays more like a demo reel than an actual film (read: look what she can do!) With a couple of genuine twists and a red herring or two, Intensive Care will make your head hurt if you think about it too hard… or at all. The concept isn’t terrible — think back to Steven Seagal movies like Under Siege where the bad guys assume he’s only a cook — but the execution appears driven to see how many stunts they can work in first and how any of it makes any sense second — for as little money spent as possible.

There are far too many moments where any sane or rational person would act in a completely different manner (or you know, act), but we’re given the tagline “crazy knows crazy” as a workaround for “why aren’t you just killing them the first time?” It’s the opposite of John Wick (shot to the chest, shot to the head, repeat) because we have a limited number of bad guys (read: casting budget) and you can’t keep beating up people who don’t get back up. For all its faults, Intensive Care does manage to provide at least a plausible reason our hero seems to spend all of her time kicking ass rather than doing the job that put her in harm’s way, and that’s cool if you’re not expecting more than that.

For champions of practical stunt work over computer-generated character fight animation (remember the climax of The Mummy Returns?), Intensive Care may be worth your time, especially if you know Tara Macken’s work… or if you just miss the good ol’ days when a pair of drunk rednecks would steal a pickup truck so the motorcycle cops of “CHiPs” could save the day when the brakes inexplicably went out on a downward slope.

Intensive Care is unrated direct-to-video but tame enough to get a PG-13… probably.

One skull recommendation out of four

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