‘Ambulance’ Movie Review: Michael Bay Crafts a Loud, Entertaining Ride

Ambulance is the type of Michael Bay movie that is packed with action, car chases, and sweeping camera shots that his fans crave. This time around, he brings Eiza González, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Jake Gyllenhaal to breathe life into this action movie event. Ambulance is exactly the type of ridiculous action flick that it sells itself to be but keeps its eye on entertainment value over substance.

‘Ambulance’ takes Michael Bay away from ‘Transformers’ and into another type of vehicle chase

'Ambulance' Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Will Sharp and Jake Gyllenhaal as Danny Sharp facing each other with Yahya holding a gun
L-R: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Will Sharp and Jake Gyllenhaal as Danny Sharp | Universal Pictures

Will (Abdul-Mateen) is a former marine who is having difficulty dealing with medical insurance and keeping his family afloat financially. He turns to his brother, Danny (Gyllenhaal), for help in any way that he could provide. However, he ultimately pulls Will into a bank heist with the opportunity for a huge payout. He would never have to worry about his family’s well-being ever again.

However, the job quickly turns sour. As a result, Will and Danny are left with no other option but to hijack an ambulance to escape. EMT Cam (González) is a hostage alongside wounded Officer Zach (Jackson White). Ambulance follows the brothers as they race through the streets of Los Angeles to find a way of getting out clean.

Director Michael Bay utilizes Los Angeles to tell a story about two brothers

Ambulance has multiple characters arcs unfolding at once between the robbers, EMTs, law enforcement, and a gang. However, Chris Fedak’s screenplay finds these stories intertwine into this large-scale bank heist. The goal is to personalize the characters, creating personal stakes along the way. Unfortunately, they’re all fairly superficial, never digging too deep into any of them.

The primary dynamic in Bay’s action/crime flick is between the two brothers, Will and Danny. They grew up utterly in sync, but they ultimately took different paths in life. Their father isn’t around anymore, but his mean-spirited soul lives on throughout the course of Ambulance.

Fedak’s screenplay also places a heavy focus on Cam. She’s an innocent party involved, simply trying to save lives as an EMT. However, the intense job became mundane for her, as she moves from one ride to the next. EMT Scott (Colin Woodell) joins as a new driver, informing her that no one else wanted to be her partner, even despite the fact that she’s incredibly talented at what she does. Cam has the best character arc of the bunch.

‘Ambulance’ is loud and ridiculous, yet entertaining

'Ambulance' Eiza González as Cam Thompson holding her arm in a blood-covered white shirt
Eiza González as Cam Thompson | Universal Pictures

Ambulance is somewhat of both a love letter and a word of caution to LA. Bay places heavy emphasis on the city’s streets, traffic, and atmosphere. He often highlights specific city streets and neighborhoods, providing the film with a variety of different environments around the city.

Bay employs an abundance of drone footage, over-utilizing sweeping shots. Ambulance certainly isn’t afraid to showcase its brutality, but even the most mundane of actions include grand drone shots with movement that becomes draining. The majority of the film includes practical effects, but when Bay does introduce CGI to the film, it’s incredibly obvious and immersion-breaking.

Ambulance seeks to introduce the city of LA’s diversity through the characters, including a gay FBI agent (Keir O’Donnell). However, the film paints broad strokes with its characters. They’re an attempt to pass stereotypical characterizations as depth and progressive ideals. Audiences don’t flock to a Bay movie for nuanced characters, but it’s certainly a missed opportunity here. Despite character issues, Abdul-Mateen, Gyllenhaal, and González all deliver solid performances.

Bay’s ambulance-hijacking movie is the type of story where “expert robbers” use their legal first names in a heist in front of witnesses. Ambulance is ridiculous, loud, and over-the-top, yet it’s sufficiently entertaining and thrilling. Moviegoers craving more Bay mayhem in a big, explosive action flick will get exactly what they’re paying for. Ambulance is better than expected.

Ambulance drives into theaters on April 8.

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