In recent years, many filmmakers have shown a decline in quality due to  over-indulgence in one aspect of film.  However, good directors always do one thing: make a movie that brings back styles that made it loved in the first place. After feeling fatigued with the “Spider-Man” trilogy, Sam Raimi went back to the horror genre he was initially well known for with the over the top “Drag Me To Hell.” Also recently, Christopher Nolan’s  break up with Warner Brothers due to the commercial failure of “Tenet”  has seemingly encouraged him to return to the spirit of  “Memento”  and “The Prestige” with his upcoming film, “Oppenheimer.” While I don’t feel Michael Bay is on the same level as those directors, it seems that after spending too many years wasting away with the Transformers franchise, Bay has returned to his roots with the high-octane action of “Ambulance.”

“Ambulance” follows Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), a Marine veteran who hasn’t been able to find insurance to pay for an experimental surgery necessary for his wife who has cancer. As a last resort, Will goes to his estranged adopted brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) for financial assistance. Rather than offering a simple loan, Danny offers Will the chance to rob a bank for millions of dollars, which Will accepts reluctantly. When the heist goes wrong, Will and Danny try to escape the police in a hijacked ambulance (roll credits). What they don’t realize is that there is already a woman named Cam (Eiza González) who is taking care of a severely injured police officer that Will shot earlier. Not wanting a death in their hands, the two men allow Cam to stay in the vehicle to save the cop as they try to evade the police. The movie then becomes a citywide chase between the LAPD, FBI, and the criminal masterminds (plus their hostages).

With a Michael Bay film, you have to keep in mind that the screenplay will not be deeply engaging,  but with that as a given, “Ambulance” is able to maintain  a  great sense of suspense and thrill The bank robbery sequence  is effective at raising tension, despite knowing how the situation will end from  trailers, and it’s made more exhilarating by how it goes from zero to 100 and stays at there . I feel with more time and effort, screenwriter Chris Fedak, who wrote television before making “Ambulance,” his first feature film, could possibly make higher quality action films. This is especially proven with the skin-crawling scene where Cam and Will have to do a makeshift surgery  by removing a bullet from his spleen.

If there is one aspect of Michael Bay that is always recognizable, it is his signature cinematography and editing style inspired  from working on commercials and music videos. Now, it seems that Bay has discovered the modern drone cameras many contemporary directors have been using and is having so much fun using them.. Despite the stellar footage the drone camera gets,  Bay seems to use it to an almost excessive scale, and it’s very apparent when stitched into different sequences. The editing, despite being hyperactive, is clearer than most people will give Bay credit for. When Bay puts in effort, you can identify exactly what he’s trying to do with each shot and how it works for the film.

The performances are a little more hit or miss. Mateen does a pretty good job at trying to be the meditator in this entire conflict, wanting to save some integrity from his criminal conflict. While Gyllenhaal’s performance may have received the most praise from audiences, Gyllenhaal expends so much effort trying to imitate Tom Cruise that you can’t watch the movie thinking of anything but Tom Cruise. González’s acting talent waxes and wanes throughout the film, and she either does a good job or undersells her performance.

I would really despise this film if it tried to be deeper than it really is. But Bay made an engaging film that doesn’t let go of you until the final piece of tension breaks.

“Ambulance” is in theaters now.

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