Written by Jack Ransom
Intense. Messy. Chaotic. Absurd. Hysterical. All of these words were swirling my brain whilst I was grinning my way through Michael Bay’s latest feature, Ambulance.
The latest from master of destruction Michael Bay. Ambulance sees a decorated veteran (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) team up with his adoptive brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) to steal $32 million from a Los Angeles bank. However, when their getaway goes wrong, the desperate thieves hijack an ambulance that's carrying a severely wounded cop and an EMT worker (Eiza Gonzalez).
After finally releasing himself from the PG-13 clutches of the Transformers franchise, Bay went straight back to his roots with the (in my opinion) substantially mediocre 6 Underground, which delivered a gloriously manic opening that I wished the energy and nastiness would have continued throughout the rest of the feature.
Ambulance rectified the lust for the relentless and consistent utterly bonkers level of tension that I desired from 6 Underground. As soon as the heist goes wrong within the first 15 minutes, the film floors the accelerator and never lets up. Sure, the 2 hour 16 minute runtime may not be warranted, but it means you are stuck in that claustrophobic simultaneous life and death trap with the characters through thick and thin. There are outside elements that emphasize the scope of the scenario (frequently littered with comedic trappings that unfortunately don’t land as often as Bay might like), but the film is at its best when crammed in the four wheeled tension tank.
All of the Bay stylistic traits and tropes are out in full force. The spinning camera, a glossy lens flare and sun drenched, slow motion, angled helicopter shots…it’s all here in defining fashion. The latest addition to his arsenal is a drone that allows for a myriad of creative movements and location establishment (though it is admittedly overused to the point of parody). The shootouts are bloody and chaotic, the practical effects are absolutely glorious and one particular moment that essentially boils down to a real life game of operation, had my jaw on the floor and my palms sweating.
Gyllenhaal is an absolute lunatic here. Clearly relishing every moment of the madness. His greed fuelled bloodlust is boundlessly energised, whether he’s screaming about flamingos (yes, really) or threatening violence to anyone in his direct radius. Abdul-Mateen II is just as wired at points, but he also provides the humane moral compass side of the brothers. Eiza Gonzalez brings brains and beauty to her role and gets her own satisfying character arc, as well as delivering in the action scenes.
Ambulance is a full throttle, explosive, carnage packed ride that will certainly satisfy anyone looking for a jolt of adrenaline. The cast give 100% and Bay is in riotous form. Yes, the drone shots can get repetitive, but they are undeniably effective and there could have been some trimming down of the runtime, but this is certainly one of Bay’s best so far.