Let the ambulance pass.
Michael Bay’s latest action movie “Ambulance” is basically like “The Fast and the Furious” mixed with “Heat,” “Gone in 60 Seconds,” “Bullitt,” and “Speed,” as we get bank robbers hijacking an ambulance with the paramedic and the cop one of them shot, and having to dodge the LAPD. And it all involves car chases, car crashes, and as Roger Ebert said: “If you’ve seen 1,000 car chases, you’ve seen them all.”
It’s not as bad the last Michael Bay-directed film I saw “Transformers: The Last Knight” (I skipped “6 Underground”), because it actually has some depth to Yayha Abdul-Mateen II’s former soldier character and it tries to tackle on the dangers of a robbery gone wrong. But sadder still, we get too many chases and explosions and gunshots, and cliches, and so forth.
The former soldier Abdul-Mateen II portrays is named Will Sharp, whose wife needs surgery, and the insurance is no help. So, he turns to Jake Gyllenhaal as his bank robbing adoptive brother Danny for help. Their heist goes wrong, especially since Will shoots a cop (Jackson White). A black man shooting a white LAPD cop-not very good odds. Sorry. But it’s true. At least the cops are both white and black, too.
Then comes, Eiza Gonzalez as the paramedic Cam, who has to operate on the cop, as she’s being part of the hostage situation with Will and Danny driving the ambulance. Before hand, we see her as a person who’s good at doing her job of keeping victims’ spirits up, but very bad at caring about them long after she does her part. You know as the “Clerks” tagline says: “Just because they serve you doesn’t mean they like you.” She’s grouchy because she ruined her chances for the big leagues with her former addiction to speed.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the one who tries to carry the film with his emotions and integrity, as his character wants to be the good guys trying to help his wife. He’s full of vulnerabilities, as he uses his combat skills to help the injured cop he shot. In fact, he’s more interesting than Gyllenhaal and Gonzalez characters, who both seem to be loaded with insults and attitudes. Too much of them can go a long way.
Of course, we’re in a season when action movie cliches try and fail to win audiences. I saw “The 355” when Sebastian Stan’s supposedly dead action had to be revealed as a villain, and then, I saw “Moonfall,” where survivors had to deal with marauders. And the week before “Ambulance,” audiences have been bored by “Morbius.”
And now, we have a premise where the good guy has to do the wrong thing for the right reason. I mean, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock because he was sensitive about his wife’s condition. But Rock didn’t know that. Not many of us knew that. It’s not ideal for Smith, but he still apologized because of his conscience. The soldier, in this movie case, has to learn the hard way before his conscience gets the better of him, and it’s valid. At least, it tries to be.
The better action movie is the wide expansion of “Everything Everywhere All At Once,” which is full of originality and versatility in ways you have to see to believe. And it’s also challenging in its story, compared to “Ambulance,” which seems obligatory and routine.