Director: Michael Bay
Story By: Chris Fedak, Laurits Munch-Petersen, and Lars Andreas Pedersen
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González, Jackson White, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O’Donnell, A Martinez, Wale, and Cedric Sanders
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It checks off the boxes you’d need for a theater-worthy experience, but can still potentially leave you feeling a little unfulfilled.
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Theme & Story: A
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General Public: Interesting Enough
Film Enthusiasts: Don’t Watch
Experience Seekers (via Visuals & Score): Wait For Streaming
Action Crime Thriller Fans: Interesting Enough
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1. A veteran looking to help his wife and support his family seeks assistance from a brother-like friend, but instead is caught up in a heist gone wildly wrong.
This is Ambulance.
Thematically, a message that stood out for me seemed to focus on the relationship between criminality and genuinely good/good intentioned people and “heroism”, and factors and/or situations that give space for these seemingly separate ideas to actually coexist.
Act One does a solid job with allowing the story to carry out the theme—it introduces us to our protagonist, showcasing the good person that he is, and the unfortunate situation he is currently in which lays the foundation for a core aspect of the conflict. The Act also introduces us to the deuteragonist who also has an obviously good natured spirit, and a positive relationship with the protagonist which happens to also add fuel to the conflict. Lastly, the Act brings in the criminality component, but gives intentional moments where despite the crime, there’s still “good intention” occurring (mainly from the deuteragonist.
Act Two kicks things up, and really drives home the theme pretty well. The crime is the main event, but in the midst of this crime there’s a situation that pushes our main characters to express their “good hearted nature” in their very unique ways. The Act also layers in the role of “loyalty” and “family” as factors aiding in this tug-of-war between criminality and being a good person, and adds in a character sort of put in the a similar situation as our protagonist.
Act Three follows up well with Act Two and bringing some closure to theme while also—which I actually appreciated—leaving me left to wonder “what happened?” Did being a good person actually prevail? Did crime overshadow the situation that pulled individuals in this wacky day, especially when a person not initially involved in the crime found herself doing very similar things as our lead characters but from a “hostage” perspective? Are those things even different?
Act Three also brings in other characters who use dialogue to speak to, or against statements and titles placed upon our lead characters related to being criminals vs being good people and having good intentions. 👍🏾👍🏾
2. That flamingo moment felt odd and went on a little too long.
3. I enjoyed Eiza! 👍🏾
4. Something about Michael Bay’s use of the drone for his camera work felt unnecessary and extra for no reason.
5. Ambulance has a runtime of about 126 minutes, and it’s definitely a fast paced and engaging film. I was stimulated the entire time in anticipation. I also found the choice of the sort of “au naturale” comedic relief moments by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character to be pretty effective, and added to the film feeling like a good use of its time.
However, it was obvious that the pacing of the film prioritized the crime aspect of the story and not the characters which left me questioning a few moments and choices. 🤷🏾♂️
6. You know, I haven’t seen “a lot” of Jake Gyllenhaal movies, but the one’s I have seen is starting to say a lot about him… He does that traditional, homegrown hyper masculinity extremely well. 🥴
7. They were driving that damn ambulance, I know that much! 😂👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👍🏾
8. Not the FaceTime medical call. That was intensity bait for sure, and it worked for me. 😂
9. Character arcs, developments, and thematic follow-throughs had strengths as well as weaknesses for me.
When it comes to Yahya’s character, pacing had a negative impact on really understanding his passiveness and overall willingness to get involved with the situation. There were flashback shots to indicate that there is a bonded history between his character and Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, but not enough time in those moments to justify why Yahya’s character felt that indebted in loyalty to Jake’s character. There were even conversations about a few years prior where this maybe wasn’t something so “crazy” to Yahya’s character, but the film doesn’t give time to unpacking that character development.
However, on the plus-side, Yahya’s character embodies and pretty much steers (no pun intended for those who watched) the core of the theme.
When it comes to Jake’s character, I didn’t really get enough information about his “why’s.” He keeps the plot moving really well, and even does a solid job with also showcasing the theme in a more high-strung, thrill seeking way, but I would’ve loved to also know how those flashback moments played a role in his “why’s” vs just being used to show that he and Yahya’s character were seemingly close, “always playing and hanging with one another.”
Eiza’s character was such a great addition to the character mix, especially in such confined contrast to Yahya and Jake. Again, when it comes to thematic followthrough, her character also was very solid and used well to help bring “a left to interpretation” closure to the theme in Act Three. She was possibly the most well thought out character of the film for me.
I don’t even want to bring up Agent Clark… he wasn’t a bad character, but he was obviously strategic in his purpose—for both story and “quota.” 🤷🏾♂️
10. I couldn’t take Officer Mark… every time he said “my partner” I wanted to Will Slap him. 🤦🏾♂️😩😂
11. Bonus point: Captain Monroe was an interesting character… and the “dog pause” is what did it for me. 🤷🏾♂️🤔
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Overall #Ambulance gives Four Brothers – meets 9-1-1 – meets Set It Off – meets 2 Guns – meets GTA – meets Speed.
I had a moment while watching where I said to myself, “this could’ve been released via a streaming service…” And I think the reason why I felt this way is because something about the story felt simple and uneventful.
As the film continued, I actually started to see the “theater-worthy” bells and whistles (I guess…) that comes with car chases, explosions, and shoot-outs… but I don’t know… I didn’t walk away with 100% satisfaction as a viewer… 85% maybe…