Michael Bay’s ‘Ambulance’ Is as Batshit Insane as You Hoped

Michael Bay is the master of maximalism, a film director who orchestrates every gunshot, explosion, and soundtrack track into a symphony of sexualized carnage. Though once maligned as the epitome of superficial style over substance, the director now, in a Marvel-dominated era of production-line blockbuster homogeneity, stands out as an exceptionally vulgar visionary, his films an orgiastic expression. from his gung-ho dudebro machismo. Trading distilled adrenalized madness, Ambulance is cast in the same mold, except for the fact that he rejects the CGI overload of his transformers extravagances for the chaos of visceral practical effects. A tale of two bank robbers trying to escape capture by hijacking an ambulance, it’s a car-chase thriller designed as a manly ode to beauty, chaos and hubris, and Bay uses it to shower Los Angeles with love. the only way he knows how. how: turning it into a war zone.

An adaptation of Laurits Munch-Petersen and Lars Andreas Pedersen’s 2005 Danish original of the same name, Ambulance (April 8) presents a story populated with distinctive characters. First, though, it’s a display of unbridled showmanship as a director. Car windshields reflect rows of palm trees, the sun reflects off law enforcement insignia, and sparks cascade through the air as rescue teams pull small children from wrecked vehicles with the jaws of life. Everything sparkles in the radiant light of a crystal clear California day, with Bay covering his action in a luxurious sheen that’s downright erotic. His latest installment offers more beautiful visuals than can be found in the entire modern superhero canon, and they materialize on screen in almost assaulting fashion, each lasting a second or two before editor Pietro Scalia cut to another sumptuous composition or, just as often, a roadside wreck painting.

Bay’s ADD aesthetic strives to create tension and momentum, and to further that goal, her camera works like a perpetual motion machine, spinning, twisting, turning, skidding, and sliding through her urban environments. Fast-paced drone sequences provide looping aerial viewpoints as well as first-person perspectives on the traffic madness, most of which culminate in catastrophic collisions that do nothing to slow the progress of proceedings. Never content to stand still, Bay weaves his way through the interiors of banks and houses (and from low angles, so he can ogle his headlines), zooming in and spinning around the stretchered bodies inside. from the narrow confines of an ambulance. The experience is akin to being incessantly strangled, albeit with a purpose, each of its super-tight close-ups and expansive panorama of him designed to convey pulse-pounding, heart-racing emotions.

Ambulance it’s the work of a director who can do anything and knows it, and whose egotistical sass is central to his art; when characters jokingly reference The rock Y bad boys, are presented as funny and humble nods to the fact that Bay is his only frame of reference. It is not yet known where the characters are in relation to each other in this chaotic universe, or even where much of the chaos is taking place. However, if one is informed, but cannot verify, that things are happening near Staples Center or LAX, such confusion is an intentional part of the sensory assault, and it is better to just suck it up and savor those rare instances when the film pauses briefly to catch its breath.

Bay is all about drugged energy, and Chris Fedak’s script gives her a proper streamlined narrative. Tormented by cruel insurance companies in his quest to obtain coverage for his ailing wife (with whom he has a baby), Navy vet Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) seeks financial help from his adoptive brother. he Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal). Five minutes into their meeting, Danny has convinced Will to resume the family business started by his father: robbing banks. With $32 million on the line, Will can’t say no and gets swept up in an illicit venture that quickly goes awry thanks to a rookie cop named Zach (Jackson White) who wants to ask a bank teller out, and for the cutie. -foot of him. his effort ends with a gunshot and he desperately needs medical attention. Fortunately for all involved, star paramedic Cam Thompson (Eiza Gonzalez) arrives on the scene, treating Zach and Will and Danny with a means of slipping through the web formed by Captain Monroe (Garret Dillahunt) of the Department of Los Angeles Police.

…such confusion is an intentional part of the sensory rush, and it’s best to just suck it up and savor those rare moments when the film pauses briefly to catch its breath.

These three leads are defined by their top-notch professionalism, with Cam bullied and noble, Will misguided and sympathetic, and Danny manic, arrogant and responsible, meaning Gyllenhaal is basically a proxy for Bay himself. Ambulance launches them down freeways, local roads, and back streets at a breakneck pace, inventing a variety of literal and figurative obstacles, the most traumatic of which is Zach’s excessive bleeding, which necessitates emergency surgery performed by Cam, with the help of from Zoomed—on doctors speaking from golf courses—in a car moving at 60 mph. Bay continually ratchets up the tension and chaos until the film achieves a kind of crushing rave, her enthusiasm for mass destruction as lecherous as her weakness for juvenile humor (particularly a dog fart gag), the placement of products (Dodge Chargers, Challengers, and Rams, oh my!) and soft toilets. There are no half measures here, just sound and fury marked at eleven.

Amid this onslaught of guns, jokes, and fireballs, Gyllenhaal takes big bites out of the set (often barking orders like a riotous drill sergeant) as Abdul-Mateen II and Gonzalez fidget and fume with sweaty relish. Ambulance throws everything into the mix, including but not limited to blows on leaving the military on their own; censorship of the health care industry; and a celebration of racial harmony and brotherhood, with contagious joy. It is a cinema conceived as a continuous bombardment of macho pleasures, completely uninterested in notions of moderation and good taste. Aiming for the jugular with speed freak intensity, he makes no apologies for his lack of restraint; on the contrary, with each of Gyllenhaal’s bursts of laughter and livid tantrums, one can practically hear Bay laughing with delight from offstage, as well as demanding more, more, plus of the next shot. You might run out of gas just before you reach your conclusion, but as with all Bayside ventures, the destination is far less important than the hype journey.

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