“Ambulance” is the Classic Michael Bay Mayhem

Ambulance is an action movie with a simple hook, the kind of “high concept” story that one can just imagine the eyes of a Hollywood executive illuminated. Two bank robbers, brothers Danny (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), steal an ambulance after a robbery, using it to hide from police. Only inside the vehicle is the flint EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza González) and her seriously injured patient, one of the police officers who was shot during the robbery. A car chase ensues across the city, with the brothers trying to stay one step ahead of arrest as they work across Los Angeles with their involuntary towing guests.

Simple things — except Ambulance has been placed in the hands of Michael Bay, the most majestic practitioner of the big screen chaos in recent film history. He takes basic dialogue scenes and shoots them from 40 frenzy angles, filling the background with fireballs and shots. In the Bay, a standard one-way shot would have to be taken by a drone camera that rotates 360 degrees while launching into the air. if a car accident is filmed and involves only two vehicles, I guess he considers it a miserable failure. Also, he has never encountered a plot that he could not overfill, and Ambulance is a flaming turducken of an action epic, filled with tense confrontations with gang warlords, an emergency splenectomy and a Christopher Cross singing to thicken operating time.

Therefore, if you are buying a ticket hoping for a sharpened piece of cinema, you may be disappointed. Ambulance is instead a strong entry into Bay’s maximal rule, his best attack on the senses since the underrated comedy thriller of 2013, Pain & Profit. As with that movie, Bay seems to have a purpose Ambulance as a deviation from its usual scale of overproduction. took on the project as something he had to do while in a pandemic vacuum with a bigger movie. But while the $ 40 million budget is small by its own standards, this is hardly a familiar character drama unless someone’s idea of ​​intimacy involves shouting at him for two hours and 15 minutes.

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At Gyllenhaal, Bay found a perfect avatar for his kinetic style. Gyllenhaal is definitely capable of producing subtle, rich work on screen, but if a director tells him to get off the leash (think Okay the Nightcrawler), is always happy to do so. His portrayal of the tormented criminal Danny looks steadily as if he had grabbed a box of Four Loko seconds before the camera started rolling. The public is certain that Danny is a top criminal, the type of bank robber who makes FBI experts shudder when they hear his name. However, his response to the revelation of the robbery is to collapse. He barks ridiculous orders and swings a machine gun around in a futile attempt to escape without Scott with millions of dollars.

His brother, Will, an army veteran desperately looking for money to pay for experimental surgery on his ailing wife, is a slightly calmer presence – though no one in a Michael Bay movie is ever really capable of complete calm. . While Danny deals with greed and emotions, Will just wants to go home, giving genuine intensity to their discussions about how to better avoid the cops (Danny, of course, suggests causing more and more chaos as a distraction) . With them in the ambulance is Cam, who is primarily concerned with keeping her patient alive, but eventually becomes Will’s anxious ally. tries to plan her escape and curb Danny’s frantic tendencies.

Eiza González as EMT at "Ambulance"
Andrew Cooper / Universal

Ambulance would be best served if we limited most of the story to this interpersonal conflict, and then directing some barbaric action sequences around it, the formula established by hits like e.g. Speed (still perhaps the best car adventure ever produced in Hollywood). But Bay rarely puts the brakes on, so the movie looks like an exaggerated series of stunts that won’t let go. No doubt I was stuck in my seat – if nothing else, Danny’s absurd machinations were unpredictable – but I felt a little more than a little squeezed by the end, which comes only after each character has been given the opportunity to shout hoarsely and shoot each around each available magazine.

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However, since Bay has spent most of his recent career stuck in the land of games (by which I mean directing five Transformers movies), failing to make a splash with a Netflix experiment (the sense of anonymity Six basements), I’m glad to see him back in the genre he understands best: the cable thriller. Ambulance is ready-made food for TV reruns and channel surfers, like other trash masterpieces, The rock and Armageddon. Even so, owning one is still beyond the reach of the average person.

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