Ambulance (2022)
Ambulance (2022)

Genre: Action and Heist Running Time: 2 hrs. 16 min.

Release Date: April 8th, 2022 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Michael Bay Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Jackson White, Olivia Stambouliah, Moses Ingram, Colin Woodell, Cedric Sanders, A Martinez

 


 

D

espite sedulous efforts to turn his life around, veteran William James Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) can’t quite escape his criminal past or the influence of his serial bank-robber brother, Daniel (Jake Gyllenhaal). When the insurance company denies coverage for his wife’s life-saving surgery, Will turns to his brother for help, but is soon inveigled into participating in a $32 million heist from the L.A. Federal Bank. Everything that can go wrong with the robbery does, and the siblings quickly find themselves resorting to increasingly severe measures to avoid capture. When they commandeer an ambulance carrying a wounded cop (Jackson White) and a steadfast EMT (Eiza Gonzalez), they begin a desperate race across the city with SIS Captain Monroe (Garret Dillahunt), FBI agent Anson Clark (Keir O’Donnell), and a never-ending battalion of police officers in close pursuit.

Awash with lens flares and flashes of sunlight flickering across or entirely befogging faces and scenery, the cinematography is instantly overwrought and overdramatic. This is immediately amplified by overactive camera movements, which tend to help with an introductory accident scene to demonstrate the thrills and hysteria of EMT work, but quickly become obtrusive and interruptive elsewhere. From extreme close-ups to thunderous music and sound effects to slow-motion flashbacks, everything seems to be presented in a hyperintense existence; no action, regardless of its insipidness, can avoid the manipulated, heightened sense of immediacy.

In many ways, it’s as if director Michael Bay doesn’t want audiences to simply watch the complicated events he orchestrates. They’re designed and conducted, in their entireties – particularly when it comes to action sequences – but the camera never settles down long enough for the excitement to be taken in. Instead, constant cuts and swirling motions work to chop up and obscure the chases and shootouts (even ordinary conversations aren’t spared the encircling camerawork). This is a great shame when it comes to the stunts, considering that plenty of cars are destroyed and bullet-riddled bodies are tossed about; once again, Bay hopes to secure some kind of award for most reckless disregard for vehicles and property. Curiously, the advent of drone photography has given filmmakers the ability to capture previously unthinkable, intricate shots, which is a monumental advantage for everyone except Bay, who abuses this potential to the point of fatiguing visual frazzle.

“Do this one little thing for me.” Although the plot starts with generic concepts (mixing “Speed” with “Point Break” and “Heat” and a sprinkling of Jason Statham movies – along with a wealth of those one-last-heist storylines), it manages to grow into something slightly more complex than anticipated (the hijacking of an ambulance occurs late enough that it would have been a surprise if not for the theatrical trailers, advertising, and title). This includes a handful of moderately amusing modern resources available to law enforcement for the tracking and apprehension of crooks. Unfortunately, it’s still deluged with silly contrivances, ranging from a stalled truck to dying batteries to a police officer interfering at the last minute to an old lady in an elevator. The numerous, brief incidents that disrupt the bank robbery and the ensuing ambulance flight are ridiculous at best, particularly as they’re surrounded by unspeakably pitiful dialogue, often delivered by terribly obnoxious supporting roles – of which there are far too many (“I’ve got the best possible people on it”). It’s downright comical just how many extraneous personas are running about – and the film continues to add more during every other scene, each receiving lines of dialogue but no meaningful resolutions. And since they certainly weren’t necessary, their absent outcomes are equally as trivial, though strangely evident.

“Does your wife know you rob banks?” By the end, it’s laughable how hard the filmmakers try to make “Ambulance” suspenseful or edgy or unexpected; as the picture rambles along, refusing to end the exhaustingly protracted chase, it keeps growing more inane and less convincing. The long-awaited finale is something else altogether, escalating tensions to explosive – and deadly – degrees, but the aftermath reverts back to the insignificance of the overabundance of characters and Bay’s excessive love of debilitatingly exaggerated drama.

– The Massie Twins

  • 3/10