While it seems nearly impossible that director Michael Bay could make a thrilling, engaging film that primarily takes place in an ambulance simply driving around all around Los Angeles, he makes it happen. With Ambulance, his newest film that’s out on April 8, he basically says, “Forget Fast & Furious. I’ve got drones, an ambulance, and Jake Gyllenhaal.”
The film follows brothers Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who hijack an ambulance when a bank robbery goes terribly wrong. They begin racing around Los Angeles with a hostage EMT, played by Eiza González, who is desperate to keep an injured police officer alive after Will shot him as they were trying to escape. The ambulance is chased all over the city by cops and helicopters, but Will’s driving expertise allows his rogue ambulance to avoid capture at nearly every turn.
Bay uses drone camerawork in a major and, honestly, astounding way in Ambulance. That feeling of when your gut drops just before the roller coaster plunges 60 feet is how you’ll feel as you witness some of Bay’s truly one-of-a-kind angles from the tops of buildings, overpasses, explosions, and more. If you’re like me and experience motion sickness in any way shape or form, it will take you a good 30 minutes to adjust to what Bay is doing in Ambulance. The razor-sharp cuts and camerawork in certain scenes can be dizzying.
Despite there being limited space inside the ambulance, the main cast churns out larger than life performances. González maintains her cool as the no-nonsense EMT who goes to great lengths to save her patient. As Gyllenhaal’s character becomes more unstable, González doesn’t break. She’s aware of her surroundings and finds the weak link in Will.
Abdul-Mateen II remains rock-solid in his latest performance. He’s the most level-headed of the Sharp brothers, and his resolve to keep the heist alive begins to fade as the movie goes on. Will has much more to lose than Daniel. Will has a wife and a baby, but his intense bond with his brother keeps him hanging out to this doomed joy ride.
The bonafide scene-stealer of Ambulance is undoubtedly Gyllenhaal. He dives head-first into the Daniel Sharp’s hysteria and desperation. Nightcrawler Gyllenhaal is my favorite Gyllenhaal, and his performance in Ambulance is just as unhinged. Gyllenhaal never loses sight that Daniel truly believes there’s a way out for him after the hostage situation is over. This allows Gyllenhaal to inhale all the chaos around him and then devour every single scene he’s in. In the midst of all the mayhem going on, Gyllenhaal dabbles in levity and gets some of the most biggest laughs.
Ambulance isn’t Oscar worthy material by any means, but it knows exactly what kind of movie it is. Ambulance is pure cinematic fun — and a lot of it at that. Bay churns out some of his best work ever in a movie that was truly made to be seen on the big screen. While the chase does eventually come to a shocking and heartbreaking end, you’ll be wanting to buckle up again as the credits roll.