It’s loud, frenetic and dumb enough to be funny. In other words, it’s a Michael Bay film. The director of such truly awful but surprisingly successful films as the TRANSFORMERS series, the BAD BOYS films, PEARL HARBOR and ARMAGEDDON, is back on the big screen for the first time in five years, and he doesn’t waste a minute reminding his fans why they love his movies so much.
AMBULANCE tells the story of two brothers, Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal, THE GUILTY; SPIDER-MAN: FAR FROM HOME; WILDLIFE) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, CANDYMAN, THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7; AQUAMAN) – I know what you’re thinking but it’s explained in the movie. One is a psychopathic bank robber and the other is a former soldier who is hard up for cash to pay for medical treatment that isn’t covered under his VA health benefits. Danny, it turns out, is about to commit a brazen robbery in broad daylight and he needs Will’s help to pull it off… not tomorrow or in three months but RIGHT NOW. Not surprisingly, the heist goes pear-shaped very quickly over the most implausible reason, I might add, and results in the brothers hijacking an ambulance and taking jaded paramedic Cam Thompson (Eiza González, GODZILLA VS. KONG; BABY DRIVER) hostage. Pursued by an eccentric police captain (played by Garret Dillahunt, WIDOWS; TV’s FEAR THE WALKING DEAD and DEADWOOD), and a relationship-troubled FBI special agent (played by Keir O’Donnell, AMERICAN SNIPER), Danny and Will lead what looks like the entire Los Angeles police force on a car chase across the city that results in destruction and mayhem throughout.
AMBULANCE is a cross between SPEED and HEAT with a bit of DOG DAY AFTERNOON and THE GODFATHER thrown in because, well, why not? Thankfully, there are no trucks that morph into mechanical animals here but even if there were, it wouldn’t matter. Like most (all?) of Michael Bay’s films, AMBULANCE makes absolutely no sense whatsoever beginning with Danny bringing Will in on the heist without even briefing him on the logistics of how it’s going to go down. Then there’s the tiny matter of them not masking their faces though they know that there are CCTV cameras everywhere. I guess it doesn’t matter to Danny because he’s obviously impervious to getting caught seeing that he already has 37 heists under his belt. The lack of logic in the plot, if you can call it that, goes on.
Bay and his writers don’t even bother trying to make the story seem plausible. In every other heist film, there’s the set up where we learn something about the thieves and their intricate plan. Not here. Bay throws audiences right into the action with plenty of busy dolly shots that are meant to add to the chaos of the situation. What little character development there is, is done through flashback where audiences see young Danny and Will playing Cops and Robbers. Guess who is which. Instead, Bay devotes more than half the film on the chase where he swaps out the dolly for drones that loop and swoop through the city’s streets and highways that are curiously devoid of traffic. This is just mindless, popcorn entertainment for audiences that like their movies to have plenty of car crashes and more than a few explosions.
A question to think about while you watch the film: How much do you think US$8 million dollars in $100 bills weighs? I looked it up.
AMBULANCE started rolling out around the world in March. It opens in Hong Kong on May 12.
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