Watching Ambulance creates a desperate nostalgia for ‘90s style action movies. And who better than Michael Bay to create that particular hit of adrenaline with eye-stabbing cuts, humour, exquisite cars, thumping base notes and a camera that is as much a character as the actors?
Bay’s lasting outing, 6 Underground, was hampered by the size of the screen (it streamed on Netflix) and always seemed to be threatening to leap out of it. Here on IMAX, the car chases, the dizzying pullbacks from mayhem on the street to a sneaker slowly revolving from the roof (don’t ask) and the emergency surgery to take out a bullet lodged in the spleen of a character inside a moving ambulance during a high-speed chase makes so much sense.
There is a special joy in surrendering to all the impossibilities — the White Queen was surely thinking of Michael Bay’s movies when she told Alice she sometimes believed “as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Based on a 2005 Danish film by Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen, Ambulance tells the story of William Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a decorated Marine who approaches his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for help when his wife, Amy (Moses Ingram) is diagnosed with cancer and the insurance will not cover the experimental surgery.
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza González, Moses Ingram, Jackson White, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, Olivia Stambouliah
Story line: Two brothers choose an ambulance carrying a policeman they critically injured, as their getaway vehicle following a bank heist
Run time: 136 minutes
Danny tells William he cannot help him, but offers him a place on his latest job — stealing 32 million dollars from an LA bank. Do banks even have that kind of money nowadays... besides the point. Danny tells William it is an in-and-out sweet deal that just cannot go wrong — uh oh.
On the other side of town is EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza González), the best in the business who nobody wants to partner with. And there is also a police officer, Zack (Jackson White) who has a crush on the bank teller, and is persuaded to ask her out on a date at the exact same time the heist is in progress.
The heist naturally goes spectacularly wrong with one of the naughty bank robbers getting squashed by the getaway van; that is what happens when you wear Birkenstocks to a bank robbery. The brothers decide to cut and run with their share of the loot and decide to use the ambulance taking Zack to the hospital to beat the police cordon.
All manner of mayhem follows with chases on ground and air. Captain Monroe (Garret Dillahunt) does not even have time to take his lugubrious English Mastiff, Nitro, to the dog park to work off the Mongolian BBQ they had for dinner.
The FBI is called in and Agent Anson (Keir O’Donnell) has special knowledge of Danny as they went to college together. Danny and Will’s dad was a legendary bank robber and also psychotic. He sent Danny to FBI school to learn their methods to fight them from the inside... so inventive, no?
Monroe has the coolest ride and driver in Liutenant Dhazghig (Olivia Stambouliah). Seeing no way out, Danny seeks the help of a wicked cartel type person Papi, and that is a chance to blow up more vehicles.
Just like Veeru said in Sholay, the film has everything from action and emotion to thrills and humour. Brothers-in-arms, dopey assistants and some of the most inventively-choreographed action sequences in forever, Ambulance has it all and more. Now if they would only bring back creature features; would it not be fun to see the anaconda gobble up Jon Voight in IMAX 3D?
Ambulance is currently running in theatres