Ambulance is a remake of a 2005 Danish film of the same name. Michael Bay’s version of the film follows former Marine Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as he struggles to find a job and support his family; his wife requires an experimental surgery that their health insurance won’t pay for.
Will turns to his estranged yet wealthy adopted brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal). Danny wants Will to participate in a bank heist worth $32 million. Will takes the job out of desperation, but when the heist goes sideways the two brothers hijack an ambulance and take a wounded cop along with a paramedic named Cam (Elza Gonzalez) as hostages.
The performances from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhall save Ambulance from being nothing more than an explosive, gyrating mess of a film. You don’t necessarily walk out of the theater feeling sympathy for Will, but you understand why the character turns to robbing a bank after serving his country through the heartfelt actions of Abdul-Mateen’s performance.
Jake Gyllenhaal is a memorable psychopath as Danny Sharp. Gyllenhaal has a ton of charisma as the character and can be incredibly likeable at times, but he has a temper that ignites without warning. Gyllenhaal is able to become intense and unhinged whenever Danny loses control of the situation, which is quite often over the course of 136-minutes.
The action thriller is dripping with what has either made you a fan of Michael Bay’s work or made you despise the Los Angeles born filmmaker for the majority of his career. The editing of the film is spastic and frenetic. There doesn’t seem to be a single sequence that lasts longer than eight seconds before cutting to another angle.
There are several references to other Michael Bay films in Ambulance; The Rock, 13 Hours, Armageddon, and Pearl Harbor. There’s also stuff you’d expect to find in a Michael Bay film like countless explosions and extravagant car wrecks. The film also seems to recycle the rotating camera Bay utilized in Bad Boys to highlight intense conversations between Will and Danny when they’re not confined to being inside the ambulance.
Despite working with a screenwriter whose first screenwriting credit is this film, Ambulance has writing that feels like it was something Bay produced over a decade ago. The dialogue feels extremely outdated and juvenile as characters walk this thin line between cringey humor and being downright sexist or racist.
It feels like Bay was trying to feature a strong, independent woman in Ambulance with Cam. She’s a competent single woman who is good at her job and doesn’t have to rely on anyone for anything. But the reveal of why she’s cold and remorseless is entirely cliché. The male characters have no real character development either though as their defining quality is that they all want to fight each other any chance they possibly get.
The Will character is also written in a way that is insulting and kind of offensive. So because he served his country he can get away with robbing a bank, shooting a cop, and participating in and driving the getaway vehicle during a massive car chase? He has a wife and daughter and his wife needs “experimental surgery” for an undisclosed illness and we’re supposed to root for this guy? Are we really this dumb?
It couldn’t be a film set in Los Angeles without someone making a reference to how terrible drivers are in LA. The secondary storylines don’t make sense or are just a complete waste of time. That conversation Danny has with his assistant about futbol/soccer and the lawn flamingos was obviously something extremely relevant to the overall story of the film.
A cop also tries to ask out a bank teller while the bank is being robbed and literally doesn’t notice. We also have these other massively relevant and not pointless at all story points; bringing a dog to a car chase, Danny joking about walking around with herpes, and performing surgery in the back of an ambulance while stopping the bleeding with a hair clip.
Revoke Michael Bay’s license to utilize drones in his films. Every outside sequence seemed to have the same establishing shot of the camera flying up into the air turning around and zooming back down towards the ground.
The camera in this film never stops moving. That combined with the film’s brutal rapid fire editing style will have you wanting to barf long before Danny calls upon the cartel for back up.
Buried deep within Ambulance’s loud, flashy action, sickening editing, overstimulated filming techniques, and a screenplay that seems like it was fished out of a port-a-potty is a somewhat thrilling film. Jake Gyllenhaal is a cashmere obsessed lunatic that you can’t help but love, but Ambulance is a gaudy and sloppy excuse of an action film otherwise.
- Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
- Repetitive drone camera work
- Cringey humor and dialogue.
- An outdated and juvenile screenplay.