Free from the robot clutches of the Transformers franchise and his last, direct-to-Netflix thriller 6 Underground, Michael Bay returns where he belongs: a car chase in Los Angeles surrounded by muscled, sweaty men.
War veteran Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), in dire need of cash to pay for his wife’s unspecified surgery, asks his career criminal adoptive brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for help as a last recourse. Abdul-Mateen II is the more grounded of the two while Gyllenhaal is giving us crazy-eyes.
What’s supposed to be an easy job gets really messy, really quickly, and the two brothers find themselves in a LA-wide police chase with an injured cop in the back of the ambulance they’ve hijacked. If he dies, their sentences will be much more severe. The steely EMT Cam (Eliza Gonzalez) rounds off this unhinged scenario, a relatively sane counterweight to the odd-couple brothers as she tries to keep the cop alive.
Ambulance is a remake of a 2005 Danish film of the same name, but pimped up à la Bay. Something is always happening, very loudly, and everyone is concerned with looking very cool while it happens. Most of the action happens inside the titular ambulance, and credit to Bay for making it feel as cramped and frenetic as the story demands through sweaty close-ups and lunatic banter. His camera goes from trembling close-ups to swooping helicopter shots of his beloved LA at dizzying speed.
Something is always happening, very loudly, and everyone is concerned with looking very cool while it happens
When he does relax, it’s perhaps his funniest film – the back-and-forth dialogue is full of bizarro humour of the boomer variety (including a giant dog named Nitro, and nods to everything from Doogie Howser to Bay’s own Bad Boys and The Rock) – but the overall effect is deadening. And at an overlong two-hours-plus, Ambulance is Bay at his most masturbatory. Anna Bogutskaya
In UK cinemas now and in US theaters Apr 8.