Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
Ambulance is a tense, gonzo Heist-Thriller that has heart.
Decorated Veteran Will Sharp‘s (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) insurance won’t cover his wife’s experimental medical surgery. With his back against the wall, he turns to his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for help. Danny would give Will the money, however, it’s tied up in his latest heist. This leaves Will with no choice but to join his brother to steal $32 million from a Los Angeles bank. However, when their getaway goes wrong, they hijack EMT worker, Cam’s (Eiza González) ambulance that’s carrying a severely wounded cop. Caught in a high-speed chase, the brothers try to keep their hostages alive and get away with the money.
Ambulance has all the touches that Director Michael Bay is known for. There are big-budget action sequences, explosions, and a talented ensemble cast that shares strong chemistry. His signature camera-work is prominent throughout. His swooping camera technique captures a wide view of L.A., which Bay has made a character in the Film. There are close-ups on his cast’s faces, thrusting the audience into their anxiety-induced chase. The shaky-cam technique is used to effect as it places the audience inside the jumpy, swerving ambulance with the characters.
With all the tension in Ambulance, Bay and Screenwriter Chris Fedak find moments of humour, allowing for the audience to be taken on a tense thrill ride with moments of levity. These moments tend to come from Gyllenhaal’s Danny. He’s a bonkers character who’s stress-level seems to be at a higher level than those around him. With anyone else, Danny would come off as over-the-top. But in Gyllenhaal’s careful, controlled hands, he reins Danny in giving him a deeper dimension. Gyllenhaal looks like he’s having the time of his life playing him.
Gyllenhaal’s natural charisma makes the audience side with him even in his wild moments. Additionally, we are siding with the robbers because of the brotherly bond Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen share. The two have a chemistry that’s as strong and big as one of Bay’s cinematic explosions. Admittedly, we want Will to get away with it more because of his intention for committing the heist. Here, the Filmmakers touch upon the unjust medical insurance system. However, this theme tends to take a backseat and more focus is placed on the bond these brothers share, and the importance of EMTs.
Bay and Fedak have created a Film paying tribute to Paramedics. We see the importance of these essential workers and the emotional toll the job has. From the moment we meet Cam, we are thrust into her high-stakes world. González captivates as the steadfast, calm Cam. One scene has Cam performing life-saving surgery with assistance from Will, while Danny is driving frantically. If the stakes weren’t already high enough, a layer is added with video calls being made to aid Cam in this challenging surgery.
Overall, Ambulance is an entertaining, wild ride through L.A. with a powerful Ensemble Cast.
Universal Pictures Canada release AMBULANCE in theatres Friday, April 8, 2022.