Star Rating:


Director: Michael Bay

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza Gonzalez, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II

Release Date: Friday 25th March 2022

Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Thriller

Running time: 136 minutes

Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an experienced bank robber, while his adoptive brother Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is an ex-Marine who is trying to pay for his wife's cancer surgeries and struggling to find a job. When Danny offers him a huge windfall in exchange for partaking in a daring daylight heist, it all seems too easy. However, when the heist goes dangerously wrong, they hijack an ambulance with an EMT (Eiza González) aboard trying to save the life of a cop (Jackson White) they shot during the heist...

Michael Bay's brand of cinematic mayhem - Bayhem is the technical term - has many detractors and many admirers. In recent years, however, a new breed of action director has swept up the space where Bay laid claim and elevated what audiences expect of the genre. Movies like 'The Raid', 'John Wick', 'The Villainess' and even Guy Ritchie's 'Wrath of Man' have all the hallmarks of this new aesthetic. The action is fluid and clean, there's usually some kind of suit involved, a lot of neon everywhere, and you'll find the same amount of beards in every one of them.

By all accounts, 'Ambulance' is Michael Bay attempting to mould his instincts to fit the current taste, but very often you find his willingness to send cars flying and throw in gratuitous product placement gets the better of him. Still, there's a lot to enjoy about 'Ambulance'. For one, the banter between Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya-Abdul Mateen II is just terrific, and you can really tell that both of them enjoyed working together and riffed lines back and forth with each other with total ease. There's even an extended scene with them singing along to yacht rock favourite Christopher Cross while police helicopters zoom past them that harkens back to buddy-cop duos like 'Lethal Weapon' and 'Tango & Cash'. Likewise, Eiza González is able to plant herself between them and not give in to the typical action tropes of damsel-in-distress that seems to plague a lot of Michael Bay's movies.

The real problem with 'Ambulance' comes from the fact that it's easily a good twenty minutes, maybe twenty-five minutes too long. Once they're in the titular vehicle, the action has to be kept at a sharp clip in order to be effective. While Bay is able to keep the chaos flowing, it does very often get sidetracked by needless interruptions from supporting characters. Not only that, as much as Bay loves a good drone shot and the drone operator should be commended for finding ways of twisting and turning the camera at every available chance, the constant usage wears thin pretty quickly. There's also the manner in which Bay stages action is all over the place. Cars zoom in and out of shot, stunt players dive over debris and walls and fire off their enormous rifles, but there's no sense of placement or geography in the scene.

Again, compared to the works of modern masters of action like David Leitch, or Christopher McQuarrie, Bay falls short of making coherent action, but it still has a rough charm to it. Indeed, if the original director - Philip Noyce - had taken on the job like he was supposed, odds are it would have arrived as a much cleaner movie, but it probably wouldn't be as splashy and natural as this. While by no means rewriting the bible on action, 'Ambulance' has enough charm to keep it moving even when the movie runs out of story. The double-act of Gyllenhaal and Mateen II works wonders, the concept is familiar but stable, and the action is silly enough to be fun.