FILM REVIEW — The brain-dead but exciting “Ambulance” that doesn’t go anywhere.
Published 12:02 am Friday, April 8, 2022
Directed by Michael Bay
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Elza Gonzales, Cedric Sanders and Garret Dillahunt
2 ½ Stars
Director Michael Bay isn’t a filmmaker known for making high-minded, artistic cinema. His films tend to be explosion-laden endeavors where cardboard characters and nonsensical stories take a backseat to the action.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as millions of people line up for each of his films, satisfied with yet another brain-dead but exciting thrill-ride of a movie.
Bay’s latest film, “Ambulance” continues this trend with another adventure that doesn’t make a lick of sense if you try to analyze the characters or what’s going on in the story.
It’s basically the story of a man (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) who is desperate to find some quick cash to pay for his wife’s medical expenses. Enter his adopted brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) who just happens to be planning a multi-million-dollar bank heist.
The problem is that the robbery doesn’t go smoothly. The two men end up fleeing in a hijacked ambulance that is on the scene because an officer was shot during the botched heist.
Can the brothers escape with half of the LAPD on their tail?
And what about the plucky EMS tech (Elza Gonzales) who is being thrown around in the back while she tries to keep the wounded officer alive?
All of this is just a set up for one long car chase, and I do mean long. Bay puts his characters on the road and then pours on the speed for two and a quarter hours.
It becomes an adrenaline ride as cars go flying in one spectacular stunt sequence after another. Still, it’s notable that the story fails to progress even though the characters are constantly in motion.
You get the sense that these characters are driving around in circles without a plan on how to escape. That’s OK because the police chasing them don’t seem to have a plan either.
Mix in the fact that the characters are poorly defined and you end up with a movie that taxes our enthusiasm as it struggles toward the climax.
Still, you’ve got to give Bay credit for his ability to stage a thrilling action sequence. His camera work is always top notch. He uses drones this time around to swoop in on the mayhem. These shots alone are enough to put you on the edge of your seat and grinning at the excitement of it all.
Which means that audiences will ultimately like or loathe “Ambulance” in the same way that they enjoyed Bay’s earlier work.
It’s not a great film by any means, and it suffers from bloat and a thin screenplay, but for fans who are just looking for some mindless-but-spectacular action, this film proves to be a lot of high-adrenaline fun.
Movie reviews by Sean McBride, “The Movie Guy,” are published each week by Orange Newsmedia and seen weekly on KFDM and Fox4. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.