“Ambulance” stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Jackson White, Moses Ingram, and Wale Folarin. Released on April 8, 2022, the film has two adoptive siblings stealing an ambulance when a heist went awry.
The film was directed by Michael Bay, who also directed films such as "Bad Boys", "The Rock", "Transformers", "Pain & Gain", and "6 Underground". It is based on the 2005 Danish film of the same name by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen. One of the most crucial things about robbing a bank is always having a backup plan when the robbery doesn't go according to plan. If you don't have one, wing it. For these two robbers, their way of winging it is using an ambulance as a getaway vehicle. The concept for this latest action thriller seems simple enough, with two guys running away from the law inside an ambulance. However, when you put it in the hands of someone like Michael Bay, it immediately transforms into a chaotic and frantic two-hour-plus experience with more explosions than a Fourth of July party. So if you think that a talking blue hedgehog is the only thing racing into theaters this weekend, you got another thing coming. It doesn't take a scientist to know that I was looking forward to this action thriller, mainly due to Bay's involvement. His direction and obsession with loud, explosive action are undoubtedly flawed, but they're passable enough to provide some guilty pleasures with the right mindset. Additionally, the director has been doing his best to redeem himself from his Transformers fiasco. Based on the early reviews it's been getting, it looks like his redemption arc has taken a turn for the better. The question is, are they enough to impress me and its target audience? Let's jump into the Bayhem once again and find out.
The story centers on Will Sharp (Abdul-Mateen II), a war veteran who desperately seeks money for his wife's (Ingram) surgery. He reaches out to his adoptive brother Danny (Gyllenhaal), a life-long criminal, for help. Unfortunately, this leads the two to participate in a $32 million bank heist, which quickly goes wrong when Will accidentally shoots their hostage, Officer Zach (White). As a result, the LAPD sends the Special Investigation Section to hunt and shoot down the brothers and their crew. Will and Danny then escape by hijacking an ambulance with EMT Cam Thompson (González) and the injured Zach on board. Thus begins a thrilling chase through the streets of Los Angeles as Will and Danny attempt to survive against the cops and return home safely.
This is another action-packed movie with a straightforward goal: to provide mindless entertainment and explosive thrills to action-seeking audiences. When it comes to films by Michael Bay, that's pretty much the only goal they can accomplish. For better or worse, the filmmaker knows how to get the job done regardless of his filmmaking issues, such as the length, camerawork, and juvenile humor. "Ambulance" is no exception, with Bay embracing his usual style while delivering a tense character-driven story amid its insane chase throughout the city. The result is what you would expect from a Michael Bay film: a tension-filled adrenaline rush that's both thrilling and exhausting.
The storyline in "Ambulance" is what happens when you take a simple car chase sequence from any action movie and expand it into a two-hour-plus roller coaster ride filled with car crashes, gun violence, and explosions. It's like "Speed", except with Bay handling the chaos of a high-speed vehicle instead of Dennis Hopper. Those who are familiar with the Keanu Reeves classic will have plenty to like in the film, including its heart-pounding buildups and decent action scenes. However, it does come with the disadvantage of overstaying its welcome. With the runtime of two hours and 16 minutes, the movie injects a lot of Bayhem into a single police chase scenario, which would leave many action fans wanting more. But after a while, it slowly starts to show some signs of fatigue and frustration, depending on your mindset. The plot could've been easily told in 100 minutes or less, but knowing Michael Bay, he likes to display his kinetic style for as long as possible. At least until he runs out of gas. Fortunately, the film successfully maintained its entertainment values throughout its beefy length with its explosive low-budget visuals and engaging characters.
Now, I know what you're going to say. "Engaging characters in a Michael Bay film? Absurd!" Well, it's true. While far from memorable, the central characters have enough bright spots to deliver some surprising hints of emotion in their arcs. Yes, I did say "emotion" because there were a couple of moments that made my heart sink a little. It may not be a fantastic representation of those moments, but for a movie about hijacking an ambulance, that's a pretty good achievement. They're also backed up by a solid cast of talented actors, including the magnetic Jake Gyllenhaal as Danny. Abdul-Mateen II also continues to deliver the goods, thanks to his riveting performance as Will. Then, you have González, who made a stellar effort in carrying the film alongside the two leads. Her character may be a hostage, but she's also not afraid to get her hands dirty, or in this case, bloody. She's pretty much the Sandra Bullock of "Ambulance", with her doing more than just being a damsel in distress.
If you've seen Bay's previous directorial efforts, you'll immediately know what his filmmaking style is like shortly after its first frame. You got his signature close-up shots, slow-mo shots, panning shots, shaky camera maneuvers, and some "underhead" shots. These techniques are often used to showcase the intensity of its action and drama, with some being effective most of the time. "Ambulance" is another movie that embraces Bay's style to the highest intent. More importantly, it balances well with its smaller scale without going too overboard with its explosions and scenarios. But, of course, the style isn't without its share of problems, similar to most of Bay's previous movies. There are a couple of scenes where the swift editing and shaky cam can be an eyesore, and the dizzying panning shots of the city are pretty nauseating. Aside from that, Bay never fails to provide some excitement with his filmmaking skills.
Overall, "Ambulance" offers a thrilling and explosive experience that only Michael Bay knows how. It's loud, intense, chaotic, bloated, and, best of all, entertaining. Despite some minor issues with Bay's direction and its overstuffed length, the movie is everything you've expected from the action-obsessed filmmaker. From its riveting cast to the edge-of-your-seat thrills, the film is genuinely Michael Bay at his finest. It may not lure back everyone who's still sick of Bay's style, but it does serve as a decent watch for people who wanted more action than Sonic's latest cinematic adventure.