ambulance, michael bay, readers writer

Michael Bay’s Ambulance is about an ambulance that doesn’t stop — not because it’s fitted with some sort of a motion sensor bomb but because the people inside it do not want to get caught. These people are adoptive brothers and bank robbers, Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal, revelling in the madness) and Bill (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). The LAPD is hot on their trail and the only reason they won’t blow up the vehicle is that there is a gravely injured cop (Jackson White) along with an EMT, Cam (Eiza González), on board with the criminals.

In Ambulance, the camera is almost always in motion. The resulting effect is something like watching an excited kid running around in a candy store. But it’s not just the filmmaking that is “mad”, even the characters are insane in their behaviour. One of the robbers runs over his teammate while moving the truck, Danny’s father was notorious for his craziness and Danny himself acts like a maniac. The lunacy is in tandem with the comedy; while a cop is on the verge of dying in the back of the ambulance, Danny shows frustration with his ruined cashmere. Surgeons come together on a video call and help Cam in an operation, during which the cop wakes up. His face is punched to make him unconscious again. Improvisation, right? I lost it when a dog became involved in the chase. It’s hilarious. What Bay displays is that during extreme chaos, the situation goes so out of your hands that there is no time to act sober. Then why not go mad and have fun?

Movies are generally filled with characters who do not go to the movies (except for the Scream franchise). In Ambulance, it’s the opposite. People mention Mel Gibson and his Braveheart, along with Bad Boys and The Rock. The last two names belong to Bay’s own filmography. They might be referred to here because Bay wants us to know that he has made films apart from the Transformers and its sequels (an illuminating example: a character doesn’t know about the movie The Rock and thinks he is being asked about the actor named The Rock). Almost everyone immediately connects Bay with the robot franchises and he might just be stating how oblivious some people are to his other contributions. Or, you know, the director might have brought up the names of his movies for amusement.

There is an adrenaline rush and plenty of excitement in watching Ambulance. But beneath the sassy, haywire surface lie real human emotions. We laugh until we don’t. Somewhere along the way, we grow fond of the bond between Danny and Bill. We feel for them when they are surrounded by guns inside Papi’s (A Martinez) hideout. And then there is the climax, which hits us with its convincing emotions. I was not expecting the film to end on such an affecting note; I didn’t see it coming. Speaking of surprises, do you know why the movie is set in LA? Because of the letters “LA” in AMBULANCE (the letters are highlighted at the end) — the movie serves mirth even when it’s about to draw the curtains. This film is total mayhem. Or Bayhem, as some would like to call it.

Disclaimer: This article has not been written by Film Companion’s editorial team.

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