In Review

Film review: Ambulance

Another preposterous action film from director Michael Bay

Michael Bay’s movies – Bad Boys, Pearl Harbor, the Transformers series – usually boil down to “guns, big explosions and car chases”, said Matthew Bond in The Mail on Sunday. And all three of these feature “large and deafeningly loud” in Ambulance, in which Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II play adopted brothers who rob a bank together, “only for the whole thing to go horribly wrong”. Their only means of escape is to hijack an ambulance, in which a paramedic (Eiza González) is battling to save the life of a wounded cop, with the result that within minutes the vehicle is being pursued by “pretty much the entire LAPD”. At its “throbbing heart”, the film is a “macho adrenaline rush” – and while it’s “preposterous”, it does the job “if big-action films are your thing”. 

Bay based this “silly” and “hysterically kinetic” movie on a “scrawny little low-budget Danish film” made in 2005, said Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian. He’s effectively “put an IV” in the original film’s “tiny arm and pumped it full of radioactive steroids”. The result is a “tedious” roll-call of “cop cars twirling through the air” and muscle men “growling” through their beards. In fact, Ambulance has “everything” you’d expect in a film like this – except “actors giving a decent performance as believable characters in a workable script”.

Well, I enjoyed it immensely, said Kevin Maher in The Times. “It’s not profound”, but it’s the “smartest, most enjoyable, most audaciously ‘Baytastic’ movie” of Bay’s career. The pace is utterly unrelenting; one sequence is so ridiculously tense there were “audible howls” at the screening I went to. Of course this isn’t Citizen Kane; it’s a Michael Bay movie. “But it’s also more than that. It’s ‘the’ Michael Bay movie. He’s finally done it.

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