Like the siren announcing the arrival of an Ambulance, Michael Bay likes to make some noise.
Ambulance tells the story of brothers Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) and Danny Sharp (Jake Gyllenhaal), two sons of an infamous bank robber. Following in his father’s legacy, Danny has become an expert in bank heists. At the same time, former Marine Will is a family man who loves his wife but struggles to find a job. When his wife falls ill, Will finds himself in desperate need of $200K in order to pay for the surgery. With no other options, Will begrudgingly decides to join Danny in his most ambitious bank heist yet. With the potential of a $32 million dollars haul, this duo’s robbery unexpectedly goes haywire and their plot becomes entangled with a dying cop and LA’s best paramedic as they plow through the streets in an ambulance.
Directed by Michael Bay, Ambulance is a fun ride (pun intended) around LA, spanning multiple areas and highways throughout the vast city. Without question, it’s Michael Bay at his most Michael Bay-ish. Featuring huge gun fights, cars rolling off of cliffs, loud explosions and rapid banter between characters, it’s got everything that you would want or expect from the director. (After all, there’s a reason they refer to his films as ‘Bay-hem’.) The implications of Will’s journey throughout the film also provide some commentary on how American soldiers risk their lives for a country that seemingly abandons them. With little support from healthcare and insurance companies, veterans continue to struggle yet no one seems to notice (or care).
Danny and Will are complete contrasts to each other. Danny is rich, smug and egotistical while Will is a caring, selfless man. Although both men embark on this robbery together, they also participate in the heist for wildly different reasons that reveal their character in the process. Fueled by his desire to add even more luxury to add to his already massive fortune, Danny takes on the job by pure choice. Will, however, has to do so because of his circumstances, as he is unable to pay for his wife’s surgery or take care of his child. What’s more, throughout their high-speed pursuit through LA, Will actively attempts to mitigate Danny’s actions and reduce any causalities. For example, Will even gives blood to aid an injured cop and helps the paramedic perform surgery. (To be fair, there’s a surprising complexity to Danny’s character. Although he appears to be only an entitled rich person, he genuinely cares for his brother and actively tries to set himself apart from the violence of his father.)
By the end of Ambulance, the film suggests that “good karma” helps offset our actions. Similar to the age-old ethical question about whether stealing bread is justified to feed your family, Ambulance asks if you steal with good intentions, are you still considered a thief? Yes, you are still responsible for your actions. However, Ambulance also hopes that the quality of your heart will be a factor in determining your outcome.
Overall, Ambulance offers all the action and insanity that you’d expect from a Michael Bay film. However, it also has some unexpected moral lessons and ethical questions through characters worth exploring. For that reason, it may be worth listening to the call of this Ambulance’s siren, especially for fans of pure Bay-hem.
Ambulance is available in theatres on Friday, April 8th, 2022.