The best way to sum up “Ambulance,” director Michael Bay‘s ridiculous action film about two brothers who steal an ambulance after their heist doesn’t go as planned, is “I’ve seen worse.”
This big, dumb, and loud movie certainly isn’t good, but it’s also not wholly terrible. It’s a throwback to the mindless blockbusters of the early 90s and thanks to the entertaining stunts and solid lead performances from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Eiza González, it’s sort of fun.
Marine veteran Will (Abdul-Mateen) is having financial problems due to his wife’s cancer. Desperate for money to pay the medical bills, he gets lured into a multi-million dollar bank heist job from his career criminal brother, Danny (Gyllenhaal). It’s a well planned robbery that quickly goes awry, and the two men hijack an ambulance that’s carrying one of the best paramedics in Los Angeles (González) and a wounded police officer. Struggling to keep their hostages alive and avoid prison, they try to keep one step ahead of the LAPD’s manhunt by leading the cops on a high speed pursuit.
This isn’t a movie with sophisticated dialogue, but why include great writing when it’s unnecessary and would go unappreciated?
The scenario is ridiculous enough on its own, but the characters are also downright stupid. They do idiotic things that aren’t believable in the slightest (even the most incompetent team of criminals would know to wear masks and not use their real names when robbing a bank), and one of the most nauseating scenes involves a paramedic performing a complicated operation in a moving vehicle that is so spectacularly farfetched that I burst into fits of laughter.
The film has an excess of over-the-top action, including bloody shootouts, outrageous car chases with spectacular crashes, and plenty of Bay’s trademark fiery ‘splosions. Fans of the director won’t be disappointed, although his style now feels somewhat dusty and passé. His swooping point of view shots assault the senses and are dizzying and disorienting. It’s made that much easier (and that much worse) with the use of first person view drones. The constantly moving, diving camerawork could make some require a barf bag.
“Ambulance” is an action film through and through, and for the most part, it reaches an average level of thrills (if your expectations aren’t set too high). When it comes to a truly idiotic movie like this, suspending disbelief is what it’s all about. Film snobs need not apply, but there’s just enough here to enjoy, even if it’s sometimes laughable.