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Movie Review

Release Date: 04/08/22
Genre: Action/Crime/Drama

Studio: Universal Pictures


"Two robbers steal an ambulance after their heist goes awry."


There is a refreshing and relieving feeling that washes over you with Michael Bays' latest high-octane action blockbuster, Ambulance. Perhaps it's the 90s action film's throwback element that is on display, or maybe it's because it's the best film Michael Bay has done since Pain and Gain. It's both, and so much more. 


By now, audiences should be accustomed to what you get when you sit down to watch a Michael Bay movie. The filmmaker has a collection of ingredients that he typically utilizes, such as big set pieces, lots of insane action, and cut-happy editing, with a large budget that tends to favor action over story. When these ingredients are overused, any of his films become mind numbing-ly silly and almost unbearable to sit through, such as any of his Transformers’. However, with the proper amount, the results are memorable, entertaining, and thrilling films you will want to see again and again - such as The Rock, Pain and Gain, and Bad Boys. The latter is the case for 2022’s Ambulance


A lot of the reason Ambulance works as well as it does is due to two crucial elements: the cast, especially the film’s leads Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, and Eiza González, and a simplistic story. The core of the film is about two brothers on a heist gone wrong. A cop in the wrong place at the wrong time is shot and taken hostage as the two robbers become desperate to get away, stealing an ambulance and forcing an EMT to ride along to save the cop's life while fleeing. With minimal lead characters and other plots to explore, Bay is free to focus on the core story for the most part. While this is pretty minimalistic for a Michael Bay movie, he still gets in his way to a frustrating degree, which leads me into some of the bad elements of this film. 


Often, when the action is unraveling and tensions mount up, Bay interrupts with a camera movement or quick cut, keeping that moment from reaching its full potential. The number of quick cuts in this movie could arguably be a stylistic choice because of the fast-paced nature of the storyline (which, within the context of the film, plays out over a period of hours). Stylistic choice or not, I found the editing only robbed moments from being as impactful as they could have been. 


Questionable editing aside, the film stumbles occasionally with a few borderline cringeworthy melodramatic moments and dialogue. A scene, in the beginning, involves Will (Yahya Abdul Mateen II) talking on the phone with the VA trying to get health insurance so that his wife can have surgery. The VA worker is plain during this exchange, and the dialogue between the two comes off over the top instead of being an effective character moment, resulting in it being melodramatic. All of these moments, coupled with overused drone camera shots and the film needing about 15 minutes trimmed off, stops Ambulance from being Bays' best film to date. 


What makes Ambulance the riveting roller coaster ride of a film worth experiencing is its use of a simplistic plot and Jake Gyllenhaal having a blast as the charismatic, unhinged, egotistical brother Daniel, enabling Bay to deliver a more stripped-down approach to his typical direction. The heist action set piece set off in the film’s opening act is tense, brutal, and frantic - a perfect powder keg moment that launches the narrative into action that doesn't cease until the end.

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