Ambulance (2022) Review

Ambulance (2022) Review 1
Ambulance (2022) Review
Editors Choice

“Michael Bay is an auteur.”

It’s an odd statement, but it doesn’t make it any less true when you think about it. While you’d be very hard-pressed to put him on the level of a Kubrick or Tarantino or anything of that sort, when it comes down to it, Bay delivers on a singular style of maximalist action that when he does well, he does REALLY well. Ambulance is no exception.

A remake of a 2005 Danish film of the same name, Ambulance centres on Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Will is an army veteran struggling to keep up with his wife’s medical bills, and after he can’t afford an expensive form of surgery, he turns to his adoptive brother and career criminal, Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for a loan. Danny, by almost hilarious coincidence, happens to be on his way to robbing a Los Angeles bank for $32 million and convinces Will to join the crew.

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As expected in these things, things go catastrophically wrong. The police are closing in, the rest of the crew is dead, and the brothers are forced to escape by hijacking an ambulance carrying a paramedic named Cam (Eiza Gonzalez) and a wounded rookie cop (Jackson White) they had accidentally shot earlier. The film becomes a feature-length chase as the trio need to keep the cop alive, as well as escape from the LAPD and the FBI agent hot on their trail.

After a somewhat brief intro setting up the main trio’s personalities, the movie becomes absolutely relentless from the heist onward. When the characters say “we never stop”, the movie takes that as a literal mantra. Ambulance features all the trademarks you could expect in a Bay flick: explosions, shootouts, sweat against what seems like perpetual sunset, the works. This time around, Bay discovered a tool in his arsenal: Drone cameras.

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Bay has these drones zipping up, down and through buildings, cars, highways and all over the place in very inventive, if slightly disorienting camerawork. And even where the action itself is concerned, the film is mostly well-shot and well-paced in its escalation. The movie constantly adds another new element the moment you think it would start to get boring, whether it be having to perform a high-risk surgery while at 60 MPH, or the added dynamic of a ridiculously well-armed Latino gang Danny is affiliated with.

Ambulance features all the trademarks you could expect in a Bay flick: explosions, shootouts, sweat against what seems like perpetual sunset, the works.”

The three lead performances also work very well with each other. Eiza Gonzalez portrays Cam as a hard-edged personality who is just as charismatic and engaging as the brothers are in her own right. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II gives off a very sympathetic performance as the one with the most to lose. However, the stars shine brightest on Jake Gyllenhaal, who is clearly having the time of his life. Danny is a ticking time bomb who Gyllenhaal manages to combine with a mixture of wide-eyed, manic glee and unbridled rage. It gives off similar energy as Nic Cage in the opening of Face/Off, and it’s a joy to watch. It’s worth watching just for him screaming about cashmere.

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The few issues that are there are essentially the standard excesses of Bay flicks. While the original film was a lean 80 minutes, Bay and screenwriter Chris Fedak manage to stretch the premise to a nearly-exhausting 2 and a half hours. While it manages to sustain interest for most of the runtime, there is a slo-mo montage near the end to wrap up all the character arcs that could have been heavily trimmed down.

Whether Ambulance is for you depends entirely on your feelings for Michael Bay. That being said, despite those excesses, Ambulance is still Michael Bay’s most focused film in years. Compared to the gleeful sociopathy of his last two decades of films like the entertaining 6 Underground, Bad Boys II and the awful Transformers series, it feels like a grounded throwback to Bay’s 90s era. Bayhem is back and hopefully stepping in the right direction if we get more like this.

Final Thoughts

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