Transformers movies aside, Michael Bay has a much better filmography than anyone gives him credit for.
Most of Michael Bay’s critics hate what he represents, an era of film that was full of hot women, explosions, fast action, and stunts over special effects. Then you have the progressive opposition who label him “problematic” due to a series of “ists” and “phobes” that they have taken from his movies.
In an age of watered down and progressively safe cinema, Michael Bay’s films are like a jolt of rejuvenation despite doing the same style that he’s always known for. “Ambulance” is the latest Bay film that proves once again, that if it isn’t broken, leave it the hell alone.
Based in modern-day Los Angeles, Marine veteran Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is in desperate need of $231,000 for his wife Amy’s surgery after getting rejected by the VA. He reaches out to his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) who is a lifelong criminal.
Danny convinces Will to take part in a 32 million dollar bank heist which will give Will the money he needs for the surgery. On the day of the heist, everything goes smooth until an LAPD officer looking for a date shows up at the wrong place at the wrong time. The plan goes awry and all of Danny’s men are killed except Will. The duo decides to hijack an ambulance with a wounded cop and an EMT in order to escape. Now the entire city of Los Angeles is on their tail with 2 hostages in their possession, there is no way this dilemma ends well for the brothers.
“Ambulance” is a film that makes for the perfect summer blockbuster in spring. The film is a high-octane action thriller that puts the audience straight on a rollercoaster of emotions. All of the Michael Bay trademarks are in the movie, the drone cams, the expensive crashes, and the 360 spinning shot. The film focuses on three characters and builds the world around them making them more focused.
Jake Gyllenhaal is the neurotic but calculated criminal who is the leader of the gang as his plans fall apart in real-time, the desperation and instability of his character begin to show. Yahya Abdul-Mateen plays the film’s anti-hero who is the criminal with a conscience, a man who is one foot in and one foot out with his morality but is the only level-headed member of the group. Eiza González plays a harden EMT who doesn’t allow anyone to get close to her but when she becomes the only person who can save the life of a wounded officer, her character takes a much-needed turn while struggling to protect her own life.
The film is well-acted and the action is well-paced so that you don’t feel the weight of its 136-minute runtime. The problems come with the 3rd act and the creative decisions made by the characters that clash with how they were established up to that point. The film tries to create the illusion of a protagonist in a scenario where there is no true good guy. By doing this, we get an ending that is forced and doesn’t fit the nature of the characters in an attempt to prevent the film from ending with a logical conclusion.
Michael Bay’s humor in the film can be hit or miss, at times they try to lighten the mood at moments where the action is too tense but some of the lines cause more groans than chuckles. Another problem is the way the film lazily tries to shoehorn a gay character into the film for the sake of meetings Universal Pictures’ diversity quota. The scene is pointless and adds nothing to the point, you know the only reason it was added was to check a box for the studio and quickly move on with the film.
“Ambulance” has its issues but overall for those looking for a straightforward action that gives you 2+ hours of escapism, you can’t ask for a better film than this.