Ambulance Review

To discuss Michael Bay and the talent he has in realising the action Hollywood blockbuster is a fine line between joining those who praise the ground he walks and annoying saner individuals who are still upset with Transformers. The joke is on both parties though, because if anything, Ambulance certainly proves Bay has perfected his own formula. His work has always fit the bill for those looking for popcorn explosions but also those looking for deeper, gratifying sensibilities. Pain & Gain was not that long ago, and it provides a perfect example of how Bay has perfected the budget to meaning ratio. Enough for all audiences. Ambulance is another bold participation in that balance but stretches itself thin in places.

His heist spectacle pairs Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II with all the star-spangled honour that comes as part of the Bay package. It unifies characters and sets a typically normal scene of not just layered storytelling but harsh, binary opposites. A flag he loves next to overdue medical bills, and with Abdul-Mateen II at the helm, the evidence that comes from the split of frustration and anger is magnificent. He leads Ambulance well and Gyllenhaal plays into the rejection of not the status quo but the embrace of old technical tricks and the pursuit of its sustainability in the new age of filmmaking. Bay’s work relies on quick pacing, stylish shock through the thankless job of ambulance drivers and doctors paired with the low-hanging cameras and swooshing drone shots to establish a brief second or two.

Bay’s dedication comes through superbly with Ambulance but it can suffer from tonal whiplash in places. Characters who make desperate decisions and then make it abundantly clear to themselves and the audience that it was, indeed, the wrong one. Will Sharp (Abdul-Mateen II) and Danny Sharp (Gyllenhaal) are driven by purpose and although that feels like a cop-out of a driving force it proves perfectly suitable to the brothers at the core of this. That relationship between the pair is well-grounded and explored efficiently. Ambulance does not turn the hero in the heist genre on its head but it does well to showcase and explore the idea that good people who turn to bad deeds will not always meet with heroic efforts that cement their legacy and fix their troubles. Ambulance, has the usual explosive action and intuitive back-and-forth pairing well with fast-paced energy to it that has all the Bay sensibilities that keep both the tension and characters moving.

A nice collection of twists and turns keep a surprisingly claustrophobic and impactful action feature turning. Bay struggles with the questions of whether or not good men can do evil while also saving others, it is a series of twists that fares similarly to Pain & Gain, although Ambulance soon forgets the chivalrous American way, and it is for the better that it does so. Eiza González rounds out an excellent trio in Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen II, and the trio have that necessary chemistry not just for keeping an action piece afloat but in harnessing the potential of an ambulance-driving felon with big guns and bags of cash.

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