‘Ambulance’ is Michael Bay’s Most Entertaining Movie Since ‘The Rock’

Big stunts, vehicular mayhem, and loads of shootouts populate Michael Bay’s newest.

Universal Pictures

By Rob Hunter · Published on April seventh, 2022

Michael Bay makes two sorts of films — massively nonsensical motion blockbusters (the Transformers franchise, 2007-2017; Armageddon, 1998) and smaller, extra grounded motion films (Pain & Gain, 2013; 13 Hours, 2016) — and he appears equally at residence with each. All of the movies have their followers (sure, together with 2005’s The Island), but it surely’s arguably clear that Bay’s at his finest with the latter movies which are extra targeted on sensible motion than CG shenanigans. Happily, Bay’s newest sits comfortably on this smaller group as Ambulance delivers a gradual stream of explosive stunts, thrilling motion, and charismatic characters. It’s simply his most purely pleasing movie since 1996’s The Rock.

Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) has seen higher days. Today, although, is as far faraway from the constructive as his residence in Los Angeles is from the Afghanistan desert the place he served as a Marine. He’s buried in overdue payments, unable to afford needed surgical procedure for his spouse, and father to an toddler son, however “luckily” for him, he’s additionally brother to a person with a plan. Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal) runs a profitable enterprise doing… one thing? It’s unclear, however he additionally robs banks, and at this time a determined and begrudging Will is becoming a member of Danny’s crew for a multi-million greenback rating. What might presumably go fallacious?

Everything, it seems, and shortly Will and Danny are compelled to hijack an ambulance containing a wounded cop (Jackson White) and a decided EMT named Cam Thompson (Eisa Gonzlez). With LA police and the FBI in pursuit, the brothers are chased by means of town hoping each escape and a wholesome payday awaits them.

Ambulance runs a bit over two hours, however whereas too a lot of Bay’s movies really feel the burden of their bloat, his newest speeds together with each focus and enjoyable. The chase accounts for half the movie, and Bay’s kinetic strategy to motion beats not often lets it really feel repetitive irrespective of what number of vehicles he encourages to crash, explode, and burn. The solid is absolutely dedicated with performances that perceive the steadiness between the nonsense of all of it and the seriousness of the conditions, and Bay’s technical crew is equally on level.

Chris Fedak‘s script, based on a Danish action/thriller from 2005, isn’t all that involved with nailing real looking particulars or creating good characters, however neither needs to be anticipated from a Bay movie. That’s not a knock as filmmakers like Bay serve a invaluable objective in creating entertaining motion films that refuse to be slowed down in plot particulars or something past superficial characterizations. This is a movie the place the financial institution robbers commit the heist saying their actual names and with out masks — though a few of them don masks once they go away the financial institution? It’s dumb, however you gained’t care. Add in references to Bay movies like The Rock and Bad Boys (1995), and a pleasant sequence set to Christopher Cross’ “Sailing,” and it’s clear that this is a film that desires solely to entertain and thrill.

What issues right here is the motion, and on that depend, Ambulance is an absolute blast that throttles its thrills almost continuous with large stunts, ramped up suspense scenes, and extra. Filmed through the pandemic whereas a lot of LA was nonetheless closed, one thing evident in some Dr. Fauci graffitti and a pair overhead photographs revealing some principally highways, the movie sees vehicles smashing, crashing, and flipping over with abandon. Bay’s destroyed vehicles in lots of (most?) of his movies, and his enthusiasm for the carnage (not sorry) by no means appears to wane. Fans of sensible stunts are well-served right here, and whereas a pair moments of “shit” CG — Bay’s words, not mine, however he ain’t fallacious — pop up, they’re shortly changed by a return to extra impressively bodily motion beats.

He and cinematographer Roberto De Angelis someway up the ante right here at occasions, although, by capturing the destruction and stunts with some souped up drones. Shots stand up solely to spin and pace in direction of the pavement whereas others fly beneath vehicles mid-jump — they’re dizzying and mesmerizing in equal measure and captured by some mad mixture of ability, irresponsibility, and luck. Much of the motion is captured with an electrical readability and accompanied by booming sound and seat-rattling bass that means you’re feeling it in your bones… and adore it. Bay’s penchant for quick cuts and tightly cropped motion nonetheless rears its head all through, although, however think about it a break from the good things and an opportunity to calm down. One character even feedback that this is changing into “a very expensive car chase,” and also you simply realize it’s a criticism that Bay’s heard from producers and studio executives earlier than.

It’s all winners on the human entrance regardless of Ambulance being a movie that isn’t almost as involved with them because it is with the motion set-pieces. Audience loyalties are tossed round — we care about Will, however he’s nonetheless a nasty man! it’s blatantly pro-cop, however then they do one thing correct and evil! Danny is clearly the villain, however he’s a lot goddamned enjoyable! — however the inconsistencies are at residence in a Bay movie. Gyllenhaal is firing on all cylinders right here shifting simply between intense acts/threats of violence and goofy playfulness, whereas Abdul-Mateen II and Gonzalez do good work with much less vary to cowl. On the supporting entrance, look out for enjoyable turns from Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, and A Martinez.

At a reported price of $40 million, Ambulance is Bay’s third-least costly movies (after Bad Boys and Pain & Gain), and there’s pleasure in seeing him ship as a lot if no more pleasure and leisure than his far costlier films usually handle. It’s additionally faraway from the will or accountability of furthering a franchise, a rarity out of Hollywood as of late, and that alone makes it a winner delivering a extremely satisfying, one-off experience by means of the streets of LA. Could it have been smarter or extra delicate to sure characters? Sure, however Bayhem solutions to nobody.

Related Topics: Ambulance, Michael Bay

Rob Hunter has been writing for Film School Rejects since earlier than you had been born, which is bizarre seeing as he is so rattling younger. He’s our Chief Film Critic and Associate Editor and lists ‘Broadcast News’ as his favourite movie of all time. Feel free to say hello in the event you see him on Twitter @FakeRobHunter.


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