‘Ambulance’ Review: Michael Bay’s Action Vehicle is a Tour de Force
I have a confession to make. I did not see Ambulance on the big screen and it is easily my biggest regret of 2022 so far in terms of film watching. Every moment of Michael Bay’s newest heist, getaway, cocaine-driven anxiety trip is worth the price of admission, VOD rental, and 4k blu-ray bundle all sandwiched together into one.
The movie begins with a simple yet effective reunion between two estranged brothers played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal, the latter taking on the family business of scheming and thieving his way to a lifestyle of riches and luxury. His latest target, as the tagline of the film points out, is supposed to be a simple heist that would set the record for largest theft in Los Angeles history. But as any film named Ambulance would suggest, the film doesn’t end with the simple bank robbery.
As the film transitions into chase sequence after chase sequence, it hits an adrenaline level and action bar that very few films have hit and the last half-decade. Nearly every plot device and character introduced throughout its rambunctious runtime works and is effective. Many action films, even some of the genres’ best efforts, happen and leave the viewer’s mind as they walk out of the theater (or in this case the living room), but not Ambulance. It is one of Michael Bay’s only true “grab the throne back” movies and sees the visionary filmmaker possibly at the peak of his powers.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen and Jake Gyllenhaal work hand-in-hand throughout much of the film, Abdul-Mateen centering as the rock and emotional drumbeat while Gyllenhaal goes ballistic time and time again. Gyllenhaal’s performance is easily one of 2022’s best given that he completely transcends how action stars are supposed to work and operate in this type of film. He’s completely unhinged, even by Jake Gyllenhaal standards.
Eiza Gonzalez works as the medic on the famed ambulance, and she chews up every scene she has the opportunity to grab. Her moments are visceral, heart-pounding, and at times nauseating. She does get some of the cheesier and genre-conventional lines, such as the moments following the survival of a child from a car crash near the beginning of the film. It’s some of the only forced moments the film has to offer, but it’s easy to negate and forget about these issues once the plot of the film starts to come together.
As for the action in Ambulance, it *literally* blows the competition away for films released this year. It doesn’t look cheap or muddy like The Gray Man or Thor, and it certainly does not shy away from gore to be more accessible. What Bay delivers with Ambulance is a genuine thrill ride and one I regret not seeing in the theaters. It’s sure to be high on my year end list.