I watched Ambulance the way director Michael Bay always intended: at home, in four separate half-hour chunks, and in part while running on a treadmill to where I had to have subtitles on to understand what was being said.
I’ll admit: Ambulance would have been a fun watch on the big screen, even if the sirens lose their decibels by the time the ridiculous third act rolls around.
About two bank robbers who take a medic and a near-dead police officer hostage while being pursued by the entire LAPD, Ambulance is a lively, fast-paced action film that delivers the beats Michael Bay fans expect.
It also suffers from the same writing and plot issues that critics of Michael Bay expect.
Ambulance is a fun ride for a while, though. With a straightforward story and only a few key characters, none of whom are especially obnoxious, the movie at first feels a little more stripped down than many of the director’s recent “throw everything at the screen and see what sticks” efforts. Featuring a thrilling bank heist sequence and non-stop action after that, Bay delivers an action spectacle that feels ripped out of the late 90s.
Ambulance also wears thin as time progresses, largely because it’s a chase movie with nowhere to go. His biggest mistake is making the two robbers, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, his primary protagonists; compassion for these two men who cause massive destruction, death and mayhem runs thin after a while. The better move would have put Eiza Gonzales, who plays the medic, center stage and in a more adversarial position to her two captors. Bay tries to force a happy climax, sort of, and it simply doesn’t work.
Had Ambulance been a straightforward chase movie that clocked in at 90 minutes, Bay would have had a powerhouse on his hands; as is, he has given us an enjoyable if ultimately ludicrous action film that becomes obnoxiously ridiculous by the end. That’s not a terrible thing, but it ain’t great, either.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.