Ambulance Review: Jake Gyllenhaal starrer relies on exaggerated action to cover up for its wafer thin plot
Ambulance seems like a never-ending chase with many distractions. Read Pinkvilla's review of the film below
Ambulance Director: Michael Bay
Ambulance Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez
Ambulance Stars: 2.5/5
In Hollywood, the action genre also has its own sub-genre that belongs to director Michael Bay. The filmmaker is known to overindulge himself when it comes to shooting chase sequences, his fast cuts are signature in capturing action choreography that is supposed to get you pumped on adrenaline. When I walked into the theatre this morning, I was hoping some of that energy that Bay's films are known to high on to rub off on me as well but unfortunately, I could feel that rush only parts while watching his latest release Ambulance starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez in lead roles.
The director who is known for being the man behind films such as the Transformers franchise had his last release in 2019 which was 6 Underground starring Ryan Reynolds which I would say was mildly entertaining at best and his latest film Ambulance almost carries the same vibe. In Ambulance, Danny Sharpe convinces his ex-marine brother Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) to help him pull off a bank robbery in LA after the latter reaches out to him hoping to lend some money for his ill wife's surgery. Left with little choice and keeping his mindset on saving his wife's life, Will agrees on Danny's offer although the heist doesn't turn out to be as easy as Danny thought it would be after a policeman gets accidentally shot soon they find themselves on the run with the entire LAPD chasing them. As an escape route from the bank, Danny and Will hold hostage a paramedic whose van they steal in order to get out. Thus what follows is a cat and mouse chase between the brothers and the cops.
While Will tries to remain Danny's moral compass all through as he stops him from breaking all hell loose at various points in the film, the latter is in a constant state of chaos as he tries hard to make his plan workout till the very last minute of the film. What's the plan you ask? Well, to walk away with the money and his brother free. In the meantime, paramedic Cam (Eiza Gonzalez) finds herself in a tough spot as she's forced to put her fear on the back seat to continue her duty and save the cop who was shot with whatever equipment and help she receives from her hijackers.
Ambulance isn't based on an idea that has anything novel per se. The heist genre is known to have gathered a plethora of films that remain mediocre at best and this one is no different. It can be observed quite early on that there's little focus that Bay wants to put on his characters or the film's dialogues. It seems like the film's story comes secondary to its visual aspects. It's the choreography of the car chase and the gunshots being fired that have received more director's input compared to the film's cast who seem to be conversing in dialogues that hold little impact. Early on in the film, Cam is seen telling her new partner on the paramedics' team that she doesn't check up on the people whose lives she saves because according to her, "The worst day of their life is just your Tuesday afternoon." This, she says after saving the life of a child from a car accident. The film soon turns into her worst day though after she gets hijacked by Danny and Will. After suffering the trauma first-hand as well as being the saviour, Cam leaves a changed person by the end of the film. Of course, it's amazing how after an entire day of car chase and surgeries involving gut burst, her curled eyelashes remain prim and proper till the very end of the day.
With most of the film being shot inside the Ambulance vehicle that Danny and Will are in, the film's biggest highlight remains continuing car chase that has left even LA folks hooked to their TV screens on a weekday. There are also doctors doling out surgery instructions to cam from the golf club at one point in the film. Counting on these elements, the film does hold your attention. A sense of self-awareness is also observed when one of the characters terms the LA police's huntdown of the adoptive siblings as not just any car chase but an "expensive car chase", something that one would agree is every Michael Bay movie ever.
Through Will and Cam's characters, there's an emotional element added to the storyline that works in parts and as for Jake Gyllenhaal's Danny, a version of Mysterio, probably before planning to take down Spider-Man, he was robbing banks all along. What the film lacks though is some sort of cohesiveness and of course, the intelligence required for a good heist film. For someone who has successfully robbed 37 banks before, Gyllenhaal's Danny comes across as a clueless rookie robber on his 38th turn.
The best bits of the film remains its big action moments including one where Will (Yahya) is seen driving the ambulance into the LA river while two helicopters try to close in on them. There are multiple sequences where you may not want to look away from the screen, simply because there's no one apart from Michael Bay who calls shoot in angles that enhance a car chase in ways better than this. The music also helps and in one particular scene as the brothers try to calm themselves down amid the high tension chase, the duo ends up singing together in a memorable scene.
Even with its mediocre plot, Ambulance does partially entertain until it begins to stretch itself too thin in the second half. Had the film remained a little tighter without the unnecessary distraction caused by the angle involving Papi and his gang, the film would have turned out to be a much smoother ride. The film does get one thing right and it's the eccentricities of Los Angeles which are observed in Garret Lee Dillahunt's Security and Intelligence Services chief turning up on the scene of the crime in a little vintage car with his massive dog named Nitro.
The silliness of Ambulance gets a little easier on the eye thanks to its performers and it's especially Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who gives his best in almost every scene. Eiza Gonzalez also impresses as the paramedic and particularly shines in a breakdown scene she has after almost losing her patient. As for Gyllenhaal, the actor seems to be merely having fun and as pointed out earlier, brings an obnoxious and cracked upside of his Marvel villain, Mysterio, to this role.
The latest Michael Bay film basically checks the boxes that are synonymous with his brand of filmmaking and hence fans of the same will enjoy this film but those expecting to see a little more may meet with disappointment. Had the film been wrapped up in two hours with merely the chase between LAPD and the siblings, it would have still worked better.
A writer with 6 years of experience, addicted to coffee, films, and sarcasm. Currently exploring all things Hollywood...Read more