Ambulance Review: This Is Peak Michael Bay

Dept. of Big Ba Da Booms


About 10 minutes into Ambulance, two cops (played by Jackson White and Cedric Sanders) are having a conversation about love and dating when one of them quotes Sean Connery from The Rock: “Winners go home and fuck the prom queen.” Ladies and gentlemen, we now live in a world in which characters in a Michael Bay movie are referencing characters from another Michael Bay movie. The serpent is devouring its own tail. All nine planets are in perfect alignment. (Yes, Pluto is a fucking planet! Don’t @ me!) The Keymaster is one with the Gatekeeper.

I think this might be what peak Michael Bay looks and sounds like.

Make no mistake, there is no living director who still makes action movies on this scale. This is pure spectacle. It is unapologetic and in your face. If you’re looking to get your heart pumping, if what you want, is to lose yourself in a hail of bullets and the sheer unrelenting pageantry that is Bayhem, then this is the movie for you.

Blood Brothers


Here’s everything you need to know about Ambulance. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (HBO’s Watchmen, The Trial of the Chicago 7) plays Will Sharp, a decorated war veteran who finds himself the victim of a failing system and a broken bureaucracy. His wife has the kind of incurable cancer that only happens in a Michael Bay movie, requiring experimental surgery that isn’t covered by insurance, and that Will can ill afford. Desperate, he approaches his dodgy brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal giving us his best take on a functioning psychotic) for money and gets inadvertently roped into committing a bank robbery. The heist goes horribly wrong and the brothers are forced on the run. Inadvertently caught up in it is Eiza Gonzales’ Cam Thompson, a no nonsense EMT who happens to be in the titular ambulance that the two men hijack as their getaway vehicle.

All of this plot is shorthanded to within an inch of its life. A quick pan over a few photos, some medals, and a book with the word “AFGHANISTAN” on its spine tells us everything we need to know about Will. A few wordless childhood flashbacks establishes his relationship with Danny. A tense sequence with a young girl trapped in the wreckage of a car sets up Cam’s character as someone who is good at her job but has no time for any of that touchy-feely emotions stuff. And then we’re off to the races. Quite literally. Because what follows is a two hour car chase – mostly in real time – through the streets of Los Angeles.

Baysian Archetypes


These are characters that you’ve already seen in every movie Bay has ever made. Flawed men with noble intent and a moral compass; no matter how skewed. Wisecracking women who are as beautiful as they are capable. And besides that opening gambit in which he introduces his main players, he cares little for the deeper issues that he’s touched upon. This isn’t an exploration into the plight of the army veteran. There is no character study on why Danny is such a broken individual. None of that matters. They are merely convenient contrivances to provide some character motivation and move the damn movie along.

It also helps that every one of these actors know that they’re in a Michael Bay movie. Which means that every performance is turned up to 11. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the most stoic version of a stoic character you will ever see on screen. Jake Gyllenhaal is wildly unhinged. And Eiza Gonzales spouts lines like: “The worst day of their life is just our Tuesday afternoon.”

I’m not going to lie. I enjoyed every one of these 136 minutes. None of them particularly novel. Most of them I’ve seen before in any one of Michael Bay’s previous movies. But there is something about sitting in front of a massive screen and just letting yourself go in the face of such unmitigated chaos. It is cinema distilled down to its most fundamental purpose: to provide entertainment and to allow an escape from reality.

Michael Bay chooses to do so by completely overwhelming everyone of your senses. He pushes so hard that it purges your brain of rational thought. It’s strangely cathartic. It’s a detox.

Behold, Bayhem!


Michael Bay has made this movie with a complete awareness of everything a Michael Bay movie is and should be. And Ambulance is everything. This is a movie that will test your endurance. It is so oversaturated and frenetically paced that it will leave you breathless by the end of it.

Ambulance is non-stop, high-octane, balls-to-the-wall action. It’s Dutch angles, and crash zooms, and drone shots. Shooting this, Michael Bay used ALL of the cameras. Every last one. He covers every angle, he takes you inside every car crash and into every explosion, he pulls up so close to Eiza Gonzales that you can see just how pristine and poreless her face actually is.

I’m not sure if Michael Bay is now just a caricature of himself, but if Wes Anderson can double down and make The French Dispatch, then surely the cinema going public deserves Ambulance.

Ambulance is now showing in Malaysian cinemas.

Uma has been reviewing things for most of his life: movies, television shows, books, video games, his mum's cooking, Bahir's fashion sense. He is a firm believer that the answer to most questions can be found within the cinematic canon. In fact, most of what he knows about life he learned from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. He still hasn't forgiven Christopher Nolan for the travesties that are Interstellar and The Dark Knight Rises.

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