Michael Bay’s latest film is in need of an ambulance, to transport itself away from the screen!
There are two kinds of filmmakers in this world, those who change their style with the passage of time, and those who refuse to do so. Director Michael Bay (Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon, Transformers) falls into the latter category where he refuses to grow up and comes up with Ambulance, which is more of a 90-ish flick that might not have worked even back in the day.
Why is it a 90-ish flick, you might ask? It has everything that every action flick in the 90s had –a disoriented antagonist who has his own reasons to get involved in the robbery, a protagonist who is at the wrong place at the wrong time, and a high-achieving female stuck between the two. Put them all in a Speed-like situation, with a high-profile character (preferably a former friend) chasing them and you have a blockbuster on at your hands.
Sadly, the 1990s are now three decades away, and so is Michael Bay’s ‘magic’. He needs to understand that he can’t pay tribute to himself and continue doing what he used to do, because the audience is changing, evolving, and going away from films that don’t appeal to them. It is really sad to see such an impressive filmmaker come up with mediocre films, just because here refuses to grow up.
Ambulance would have been great had it been an episode of a TV show revolving around cops; then the audience would have known whose side they were on. Sadly, here the viewers have no clue who to support, who not to support, and whose side to take when both sides are busy outwitting each other. It is too long even for a feature film, and despite Michael Bay’s innovative camera techniques, it just doesn’t interest the audience whose attention span is shrinking thanks to OTT platforms.
The story revolves around the lives of three individuals – a decorated war veteran Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), his adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), and ace EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza González). While one is desperate for money to cover his wife’s medical bills, the other presents ‘bank robbery’ as the solution, whereas the paramedic is stuck between them, after the plan goes bust and they hijack the ‘ambulance’ to escape the cops.
They manage to make an exit from the bank, but the police stay behind them for the rest of the film, making it the ‘ideal’ film version of Cops. Add to that an injured policeman who was unnecessarily at the bank, unlimited supply of medicines and roads that are as smooth as silk, and you have a movie that caters to the audience of every hit TV show including House (the surgery angle), FBI: Most Wanted (the chase element), as well as movies like The Fugitive, US Marshals to name a few.
The film could have been named anything but an Ambulance since it had a high-speed pursuit that never stops, two adopted brothers who wanted to help each other, a paramedic who wanted to become a doctor, and law enforcement officers who wanted to cut the chase, but since most of the action took place in an ambulance, ambulance it was. It seems like a mixture of Speed, Heat, Bad Boys, and Con Air but doesn’t perform like any of them. The biggest reason is having too much of everything except the plot, dialogues, and performances.
Let’s assume that the actors were playing a character – then why did Jake Gyllenhaal’s character appear as a novice when he was committing his 38th robbery, why did Yahya Abdul-Mateen II look rock-solid despite being behind the wheels since forever, and how did Eiza Gonzalez look perfect at the end of the film, after she had been through hell? Add to that a group of forgettable bank robbers who dominated the screen time before the escape and the law enforcement agents who replaced them after the heist, and you have a boring predictable film that was nothing but mediocre from start till end.
If the audience wanted to watch a high-speed chase, they could have watched any Fast and Furious flick, if they wanted emotional drama, they could have rented a 90s classic, or if they wanted a Michael Bay action flick, they would have gone for The Rock and Bad Boys that were mentioned at the start of the movie. Yes, Eiza Gonzalez looked good in the film but her backstory is not elaborated; the same could be said for both Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen who seemed more like antagonists picked directly from a TV show from the 1970s, and placed in this movie, for their cause didn’t appeal to the audience.
Ambulance had too much of everything, from explosions everywhere to a heist gone terribly wrong, yet it does one thing right and that is boring the audience with its predictability. It could have been a contender had Michael Bay not used his unnecessary blockbuster approach while filming; had he restrained himself from blowing up everything a human eye could see, or making the story more realistic, he might have been able to save the film.
Ambulance ends up as a lesson to filmmakers around the world who don’t want to adapt to changing times. After watching this film, they will realize that if Michael Bay can disappoint his fans with his trademark flick, then so can they. It is up to the 6 Underground director to choose his next project very carefully – if he does well, he might be taken seriously again, but if he fails, he will sink without a trace, and might never be seen (or taken seriously) again!