Metro Weekly

Review: ‘Ambulance’ Is Michael Bay’s Latest Loud Mess

Michael Bay's gun-crazy 'Ambulance' is loud, dumb, and feels interminably long. At least it's mostly coherent.

Ambulance: Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González
Jake Gyllenhaal and Eiza González in ‘Ambulance’

More than once in the aimless heist-gone-wrong epic Ambulance (★★☆☆☆), supposed criminal mastermind Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal) is asked if he has a plan. Among others, his adopted bro Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), lured into another of Danny’s ill-conceived schemes, demands to know, “What’s the plan?!”

Will’s question has the ring of an inside joke aimed at director Michael Bay for this hectic adaptation of the 2005 Danish drama Ambulancen. Nearly twice as long as the film that inspired it, Bay’s movie, written by Prodigal Son co-creator Chris Fedak, definitely proceeds like a caper devoid of a plan. And given that someone here sarcastically quotes Sean Connery in Bay’s 1996 hit The Rock, inside jokes clearly aren’t off-limits.

The fact that Michael Bay movies exist in the world of this Michael Bay movie is, in itself, the movie’s best joke. We might imagine the characters onscreen stuck in a loop living in or watching a Bay-directed cavalcade of guns, cars, chases, and explosions on repeat — just like anyone watching Ambulance.

The car crash parade kicks off in promising, if sappily earnest, fashion with a tense ridealong to a trauma scene with L.A. paramedic Cam (Eiza González) and her newbie partner Scott (Colin Woodell).

Played with convincing smarts and nerve by González, Cam has written off their latest blood-soaked emergency call as just a normal Tuesday when the pair’s shift takes a real turn for only-in-a-movie territory.

The Sharp brothers commandeer Cam’s ambulance at gunpoint to make their getaway from a bank robbery gone awry, setting off a chain reaction of chases, crashes, standoffs, and gunfights.

Here’s where some sort of plan should come into play, for the bank robbers and the filmmakers: what’s at stake, where’s this wanton tally of felonies headed, and how does Danny think he and Will will actually get away in a getaway ambulance that’s being pursued by half the LAPD?

Ambulance
Ambulance – Photo: Universal Studios

Well, the stakes are defined in obvious enough terms — bags and stacks of cash on one hand, and on the other, expensive and desperately needed experimental cancer treatment for Will’s saintly, clueless wife Amy (Moses Ingram). All the rest seems left to chance, like a careening, chaotic, death-defying roadtrip with no proposed destination.

With Will behind the wheel racing around L.A. like Lewis Hamilton, Danny sitting shotgun shouting orders, and Cam in the back attending to a wounded patient, the ambulance speeds randomly from scene to scene, getting into and out of trouble — more guns, cars, chases, explosions, repeat.

The cycle seems endless, episodes ranging from repetitive to ridiculous, as in the depiction of open-chest surgery performed without instruments or anesthesia in the back of the speeding ambulance.

Each successive set-piece is chopped into busy, emotionless montages of restlessly swooping, soaring, diving action shots. Attempts to inject passion and intensity through extremely tight closeups of Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen in high-stress situations just call unnecessary attention to the movie’s shouty, hostile energy.

Outside of the shouting, Gyllenhaal’s hapless criminal doesn’t register much of a personality, and neither does the movie, except where gun-and-mayhem-obsessed counts as some sign of character.

Ambulance is Rated R, and is playing in theaters nationwide. Visit www.fandango.com.

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