Perhaps the last A-list director to bring us an Ambulance based movie was Martin Scorsese with his 1999 film, ‘Bringing out the Dead’ with Nic Cage as a burnt out ambulance paramedic struggling to hang onto his sanity haunted by the patients he failed to save. A nuanced almost existential exploration of what it means to be human. Well now we have Michael Bay and his own Ambulance movie where of course he blows up everything. Having spent six films blowing up his enormous fighting robots he’s now left those Transformers behind him and turned his hand to remaking a low budget Danish film and blown up the budget, blown up the running time and to no ones surprise blown up lots of vehicles in modern day LA.
At the centre of this is Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) a military veteran desperately needing money for an experimental operation for his baby and he asks his adoptive brother and career criminal Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for money. Fortunately for Danny, Will has turned up at just the right time as he’s about to go and rob a bank of $32million and needs a driver in an implausibly contrived moment. Try as he might Bay doesn’t top that seen in Heat, the benchmark for all bank heists and the robbery inevitably goes bent with Danny’s crew all dead he and Will commandeer an ambulance carrying a cop they shot and the paramedic Can ( Eiza Gonzalez) doing her best to keep him alive. And off we go on a two hour+ ambulance chase with seemingly every cop car and police resource going after them.
In fairness Bay knows how to shoot these huge action set pieces and its exhilarating stuff shot at breakneck speed and the director has found a new toy to play with too namely the drone camera. It’s the drone shots that litter the film with the operators out to impress Bay with all the contained spaces and tiny gaps that they can fly a drone through often at dizzying heights with head spinning angle twists. But Ambulance fails to avoid all the standard tropes of the genre that includes the seemingly obligatory vehicle crashing through improbably situated market stalls and of course the squabbling cop departmental heads and the FBI agent who wants to run the show and as this all takes place in LA there is, of course, scenes in the Los Angeles river.
Bombastic action has always been the feature of any Michael Bay film together with trademark cloying sentimentality that book ends the film you can’t help but feel that he’s itching to get on with the blowing things up. Ambulance with all three main roles , especially Gonzalez, are underwritten and the film is overlong but the action never lets up and for fans of the directors brand of Bayhem Ambulance is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Watch the trailer HERE
Find out how the they the chases through Los Angeles HERE