Review by Dan Skip Allen
Michael Bay has been known to make films with a lot of flair. His unique style has spawned other filmmakers that want to copy his style, but he is the only one who has mastered this style — a flashy, shiny, glossy style with lens flares and a newness. The Transformers films were the perfect example of this style he has perfected. The newest film from Bay is Ambulance, another actioner that fits the same bill.
Yahya Abdul Mateen II plays an ex-military man looking for a way to pay for an experimental surgery for his wife and mother of his child. He calls his brother (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has a job that will set everyone up forever. Trying to convince Mateen's character to rob a bank with him and his team was the easiest part. Surviving and getting away is the hardest part.
The film focuses on several groups of people: the bank robbers, a couple of LA cops in the wrong place at the wrong time, and an EMT worker who gets caught in the middle of all of this. The EMT worker is played by Eiza Gonzalez (Baby Driver), who is the heart of the film. We, as the viewer, see everything from her perspective.
The film deals with some moral dilemmas, and how these characters deal with them is the key to seeing how this film unfolds. Trying to save a life plays a huge part in the movie. Whether it's Mateen's character's wife, a little girl who gets caught in the crossfire of one of the police officers who gets shot trying to stop the bank robbers, saving lives is the utmost concern of the screenwriters.
Bay decides to tell this story of moral dilemmas by doing some technical things that just didn't work for me. His cinematic style gets in the way of a relatively interesting story. He can't seem to let the camera rest without spinning it around in circles and causing headaches from the non-stop movement and shaking of the camera. Also, the score that is so over the top it's mind-splittingly numb.
What draws this film to an exciting conclusion is a film long car chase where the incompetent LAPD chases an ambulance around the greater Los Angeles area. This chase sequence is fantastic. It's one of the best car chase scenes in movie history, but it's so over the top it's hard to believe that an ambulance can outrun and outwit the entire LAPD. This is the kind of thing Bay does, though. He's famous for doing this type of wild, crazy stuff in his films.
Ambulance relies on Bay's overabundance of Bayisms, shaky cam, and loud, obnoxious score. The moral dilemmas the film tries to interject into the script are a disguise for all of these Bayisms that he inexplicably has to put into his movies. He can't help himself. Most audiences will probably enjoy this film and ignore the problems I see with the film. I can't, though! These problems completely threw me out of another shiny, glossy flashy Bay film.
Ambulance hits theaters on April 8.