Infamous director Michael Bay is back with another action film. Bay has made a name for himself after directing ridiculously action-packed, CGI-heavy film franchises such as “Transformers”and“BadBoys”. Though Bay definitely has a dedicated fanbase, nearly all of his films can be summed up as “style over substance,” and “Ambulance” is no exception. For better or worse, it is exactly what you would expect from a Michael Bay film.
Starting with my positives, Jake Gyllenhaal is really good as per usual. He’s doing his best to elevate this very silly script. I think my favorite thing about Gyllenhaal as an actor has to be his ability to enhance even the most mediocre of screenplays. Much like his recent roles in “Spider-Man: Far From Home” and “Velvet Buzzsaw”, Gyllenhaal’s presence simply makes the movie. His character, Danny, is a horrible person, but Gyllenhaal forces you to root for him. He’s scene-chewing in the best way possible.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was also quite good opposite of Gyllenhaal. You really buy into the fact that they care for each other despite their differences. Though his character is purposely the straight man compared to Gyllenhaal, Abdul-Mateen II was still compelling. He’s the true heart of the movie, making the audience understand and sympathize with the poor decisions he’s making.
My biggest negative with “Ambulance” has to be the runtime. It’s 136 minutes and feels about an hour too long. The concept is truly interesting, however, it revolves around a single car chase. This would have been a captivating level in say, “Grand Theft Auto,” or an interesting episode of a crime show. However, it simply gets stretched to ridiculous limits in this film. “Ambulance” had no business being over two hours.
Michael Bay is clearly over-directing this film; he’s simply doing way too much. Again, harking back to the “style over substance” criticism that he typically receives, it’s valid in “Ambulance”. The most distracting element of this film has to be the inclusion of winding drone shots. It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster in the worst possible way. The weird use of spinning and twisting shots (when they are absolutely unnecessary) continued to happen throughout the film. It went from mildly annoying to downright distracting.
The constant cutting during all of the action was also handled poorly in my opinion. I don’t think that any action scene went more than three or four seconds without either cutting, moving the camera for no apparent reason or shaking the camera.
The way the script sets up the main conflict and keeps it in motion is truly nonsensical. The inciting incident that kicks off the plot is just confusing. Essentially, we meet two officers that we have never seen before and one of them wants to get a bank teller’s number. That is seriously the only reason that the plot of “Ambulance” actually happens.
Once the inciting incident occurs and the ambulance chase begins, all logic is thrown out of the window. The police and FBI act beyond foolishness here. I understand this is a dumb, big-budget action movie. However, I’m still taken out of the film when characters aren’t acting like logical human beings.
Overall, “Ambulance” is, without a doubt, Michael Bay in his wheelhouse. I’m sure many of his fans, and fans of over-the-top action films, will get a lot of enjoyment from this. However, I did not. Jake Gyllenhaal is the clear standout in the film and honestly the only redeeming part. The distracting camerawork, nonsensical plot contrivances and over-bloated runtime truly made “Ambulance” a chore to get through. 4/10.
The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.