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Ambulance Review

April 8, 2022 | Posted by Jeffrey Harris
Ambulance - Movie - Universal Pictures Image Credit: Universal Pictures/NBCUniversal
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Ambulance Review  

Directed By: Michael Bay
Written By: Chris Fedak; Based on the film Ambulacen by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen
Runtime: 136 minutes
MPA Rating: Rated R for intense violence, bloody images and language throughout

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II – Will Sharp
Jake Gyllenhaal – Danny Sharp
Eiza Gonz├ílez – Cam Thompson
Garret Dillahunt – Captain Monroe
Keir O’Donnell – Anson Clark
Moses Ingram – Amy Sharp
Jackson White – Officer Zach
Olivia Stambouliah – Lieutenant Dzaghig
Cedric Sanders – Officer Mark
A Martinez – Papi
Wale – Castro
Colin Woodell – Scott

Filmmaker Michael Bay is back with his latest high-octane action flick with the Universal Pictures release, Ambulance. The film is one part heist flick and the other part an extended chase story, with breakneck pacing and a barrage of car crashes, shootouts, and high velocity. Ambulance is pure Michael Bay, which could very well be a dream come true to some viewers but a nightmare to others.

Military veteran Will Sharp (Abdul-Mateen II) and his wife Amy (Ingram) are experiencing a financial crisis. They have a newborn to look after, but Amy is in dire need of an expensive experimental medical treatment they cannot afford. With nowhere left to turn, Will seeks help from his smooth-talking, con artist adopted brother, Danny (Gyllenhaal). Danny has a slot for Will that would answer all of his financial needs. The catch is that it involves robbing a Los Angeles bank that same day.

It doesn’t take long for the robbery to go sideways. With their crew engaged in a shootout with the LAPD, Will and Danny make a hasty escape in an ambulance carrying an officer who Will shot. Now, Will and Danny engage in an extended chase with the full weight of the LAPD after them as they carry a gravely wounded police officer. Unwittingly along for the joyride is EMT Cam Thompson (Gonz├ílez). Entangled in a chaotic situation, Will takes the wheel of the ambulance with some slim hope he can escape and provide the funds his family desperately needs.

Ambulance is absolutely bonkers. Chris Fedak’s script is not a good match for Michael Bay’s frenetic pace and style. Michael Bay treats the material with an unusual amount of seriousness. Yet, the unfolding plot is so ridiculous that Bay’s attempts at heartfelt emotion come off as overstated melodrama. It makes large swaths of the movie unintentionally laughable.

Bay continues to lean hard on this odd style of delivering dialogue, where the exchanges appear to be a forced attempt at immersive realism. As a result, much of the delivery sounds unintelligible. Of course, characters repeatedly pay verbal homage to Bay’s past works, which is neither funny nor clever.

Abdul-Mateen II and Gyllenhaal are talented actors, and they do their best to sell the material. But when the action ramps up, the interplay grows more incoherent. Gyllenhaal’s banker is a second-generation hotshot bank robber, with a long, experienced resume. However, based on the heist that sparks the rest of the film, it looks like it was the worst-planned bank heist in history. The rush to get to the heist so quickly does not help matters either.

Once the action moves to the ambulance, the remainder of the film is a prolonged chase sequence. The action and chase sequences, segmented into various stages, might be suspenseful and appealing to some. However, most of the movie looks and sounds largely incoherent, as Will and Danny try to improvise a solution to their getaway. Rather than ratcheting up the tension and suspense, the action ramps up the speed, insanity, and volume. Ambulance becomes a collective cacophony of chaos that is oppressive to watch rather than entertaining.

The problem with Bay’s style of action is that it is hard to care about all the insanity without a character to emotionally anchor the action. Abdul-Mateen is at least somewhat believable as Will. He is a combat veteran who was backed into a corner and only got involved with Danny’s heist to support his family. His plight is somewhat believable, but it is buried under copious levels of bad dialogue, writing, and incoherent direction.

Ambulance only grows more ridiculous when Cam is the only person capable of keeping the wounded police officer in the getaway ride alive, but Officer Mark (White) is in desperate need of trauma surgery. The solution the film materializes for this particular problem is absurd. It is so absurd that certain audiences might find the movie even more entertaining. The problem is that Ambulance plays like a long series of illogical plot developments that push the threshold for believability well past its breaking point.

The pacing of Ambulance is so fast and intense that there are moments where it almost becomes interesting. However, the immersion breaks when the characters start speaking hackneyed, unintelligible dialogue or do something ridiculous. At times, Michael Bay presents sequences in a grandiose manner to depict the deep bond of brotherhood between Danny and Will. Unfortunately, the theme of brotherhood is bludgeoned so hard that it turns to dust. That is how it feels to watch Ambulance.

The final score: review Bad
The 411
Ambulance is big, fast, loud, insane, and stupid. It is frenetic, chaotic, and action-packed. So, that might be enough to earn it a theatrical viewing experience for certain audiences. Those who like and enjoy the work of Michael Bay might have a suitably good time, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, watching this movie in a theater was more of an overbearing experience, with the rare bits of entertainment mainly coming from ridiculous dialogue or plot developments. Ambulance is a ridiculous action movie that's just too loud, ridiculous, and overbearing to be any fun.