Louder than a brass band being kicked down a flight of steps and through a glass door and edited to within a flicker of biting your tongue off epileptic seizure, Ambulance is indeed a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Thankfully though that idiot is Michael Bay and Ambulance marks something of a return to form for the Maestro of Mayhem after whatever that one with smugtatstic Ryan Reynolds and the big magnet was called.

Out of luck and out of cash with his wife desperately needing experimental life-saving surgery that their health insurance won’t cover, heroic ex-marine Will (Candyman’s Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) becomes embroiled in helping estranged adoptive brother and motormouthed sociopath Danny (Jake Gyllenhall) rob a downtown LA bank.

Ambushed by the cops, a ferocious gun battle leaving most of their gang dead and them trapped, Danny and Will are forced to hijack an ambulance, kidnapping tough, cynical paramedic Cam (Eiza González) and a wounded policeman, in order to escape the tightening dragnet.

With the cops in hot pursuit, the robbers running out of options and the trigger-happy Danny getting increasingly twitchy over the course of their dog day afternoon, the resourceful Cam must battle to keep herself and her patient alive…

Featuring a level of vehicular destruction that’d give the Blues Brothers an erection, ragged slo-mo American flags flapping in the wind, a trio of noble but flawed heroes (well, two noble and one crazier than a shithouse rat…) and more muscular family love than the Fast and Furious series, Ambulance is a thundering juggernaut of an action movie that demolishes everything in its path to deliver a movie that drags you to the edge of your seat and keeps you there for the duration of it’s 136 minutes.

Sure, there’s some hyper-real, nauseating, swooping drone shots that give you a coked-up sparrow’s eye view of the first act’s Heat-lite percussive gun battle and a frenetic mise-en-scène that may well have been cut together by a methed-up masturbating bonobo with ADHD and a straight razor but once we’re in the ambulance Bay does what Bay does best, amping up the tension to deliver a visceral, crowd-pleasing thrill ride. The film, as with most of Bay’s oeuvre, is ludicrous, not even on nodding terms with reality despite a last act nod to Black Lives Matter but it’s also ludicrously fun; police cars, helicopters, bullets and flying bodies not only refusing to obey the laws of physics but laughing in Isaac Newton’s face as Cam performs squelchy life-saving surgery during a police chase with the help of Zoom while nice guy Will donates blood and nutbag Danny trades quips and bullets with the cops while amongst the magpie-ing from classic heist gone wrong movies like Heat and Dog Day Afternoon, Bay also takes time out to puncture his own self-importance having the two likable patrolmen who blunder into the robbery and kick the whole mess off bicker about The Rock, the elder cop quoting Sean Connery’s “Winners fuck the prom queen,” speech while his rookie partner assumes he’s referencing Dwayne Johnson.

As the cool-headed Cam, Eiza González may not only be the closest thing to a likable character in the film but may also be the closest thing to a believable woman in a Michael Bay film. And by that I mean she’s equally as two dimensional as Will and Danny but at least there’s none of the usual pretty girl in a vest shots that Bay loves (still can’t quite believe she got through the whole film without having to rip off her shirt and use it as a tourniquet…) and González makes an appealing and feisty heroine.

While it looks like they were only introduced moments before the cameras started rolling, Abdul-Mateen II and Gyllenhall never convince as brothers but Abdul-Mateen II has charisma to burn and a solidity that suits his stoic character while there’s strong support from everyone’s favourite creepy weirdo Garrett Dillahunt in a rare good guy role as the cop hunting our robbers and essentially impersonating Heidstabber Gerry Butler in Den of Thieves, Keir O’Donnell’s gay FBI agent who used to be college BFFs with Danny and Olivia Stambouliah’s dry as the desert LAPD technogeek.

But the film belongs to Gyllenhall, normally a subtle master of underplaying, here he turns it up to 11 to out-Cage Nicolas Cage as the twitchy loose cannon Danny, obviously having a whale of a time as he chews the scenery like its Kobe beef, a sleek, cashmere-clad shark in constant motion as he schemes and improvises, driven to greater and greater lengths to escape.

Totally demented Saturday night entertainment, if nothing else with its desperate protagonists trying to steal enough cash to pay for healthcare, Ambulance like Breaking Bad before it highlights just how important the NHS is. While destroying a lotta police cars.

Movie Review: Ambulance
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