Director: Michael Bay
Screenplay by: Chris Fedak
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González
Cinematographer: Roberto De Angelis
Midway through a high-speed chase with the Los Angeles police on his tail and his brother Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) by his side, a frustrated Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) calmy asserts “Well… I wish I didn’t have herpes, but we all gotta deal with what we got.” Daniel “Danny” Sharp is the witty and narcissistic expert criminal who has no problem blaming others for his predicaments. His thirst for money and power [with a healthy side of a sense of duty to his family] is the reason he and Will are caught in a crossfire with LA’s first responders.
In Michael Bay’s emotional and chaotic Ambulance, a brotherhood reforms then dismantles for a contrarian pair while they steal money from a bank for different reasons. William “Will” Sharp is Danny’s adoptive brother and war veteran. When his wife Amy (Moses Ingram) learns of a potentially life-changing surgery to assist with her fast-growing cancer, Will struggles to find the means to pay for it. Hesitantly, he turns to his brother Danny, whose affinity for petty misconduct since childhood has evolved into a master cadence for criminality.
Smothered by loud action sequences with a fresh spin on his directorial choices, Michael Bay brings excitement back to action thrillers via his latest Ambulance. Early on, he establishes a sense of urgency with respect to storytelling in this electrifying and fast-paced 136-minute feature. Backed by a welcomed unhinged and hilarious performance from Gyllenhaal and a quieter, emotionally defined one from Abdul-Mateen II, the film reminds us why “Bayhem” is always a good time at the movies.
To my surprise, the style in Bay’s direction is crisp and exhilarating more so than usual as well. His team of drone experts navigate aerial shots and intricate vantage points in chase scenes with style. The film is still often plagued by shaky camera scenes (especially during close-ups); but to my surprise, they flowed enough to emphasize the havoc within each landscape. But the more annoying weak points were the obvious sequences with the body doubles. They certainly don’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the film, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that they completely took me out of the movie upon observation.
There’s an obvious identifiable moment in which viewers can expect matters to turn worse for Will and Danny. But what sets this script apart from other Bay features is his and screenwriter Chris Fedak’s willingness to spend time on their strong female lead while making her an integral part of the story’s outcome. Eiza González’s Cam Thompson is the EMT hostage who is strong-willed, confident, and persistent in her desire to save lives. González commits to a strong and powerful performance as she’s intermittently forced to intervene when necessary.
As the film progresses, there’s no real moment in which I felt like I could catch my breath. But to be fair, I’ve kind of missed these types of films. Pierced with humor thanks to Gyllenhaal’s Danny and a witty script that doesn’t hold back from pulling in pop culture references, Ambulance just might be the action film that viewers have been missing. Of course, there’s always a superhero (or anti-hero) film, but nothing beats the Bayhem. Pair the humor and chaos with a compelling emotional angle, and you’ve got yourself a good and balanced time at the movies.
It’s wild… It’s entertaining… It’s satisfying. This is the Michael Bay we’ve been missing.
Check out the trailer for Michael Bay’s Ambulance — in theaters Friday, April 8, 2022!