Sometimes you need a movie that doesn’t require you to think about what is happening. This is because what you are seeing is what is happening. It’s not even a month after the Oscars, and many of you aren’t still over with watching all the movies that were nominated. A good script, a good story, good cinematography, great editing, and, of course, great acting. As film-buffs, we are attracted to all these aspects, right? And too many movies like these do make us want for a break; a break from all the thinking and assessing, a break where all we have to do is watch and enjoy the film. And that is what Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” gives us: pure adrenaline-rushing enjoyment.
“Ambulance” is adapted from the 2005 Danish film “Ambulancen,” released in 2005. The film is a rescue mission for all the Michael Bay fanatics who were facing a tremendous shortage of action thrills and is a breath of not-so-fresh air that results from explosions and smoke. In short, welcome back, Michael Bay.
This Michael Bay’s film is indeed made for the theaters. The impressive drone shots, the signature Michael-Bay camera movements, and the very specific stylistic approach to storytelling that has emotional stakes behind the heavy action, all these aspects are very much tangible in the film. It is a visual spectacle that is brought about by the efforts of stunt coordinator Mike Gunther, cinematographer Roberto De Angelis and production designer Karen Frick. The editing by Pietro Scalia, Doug Brandt, and Calvin Wimmer is rather satisfying, although there are bits and pieces of incomplete shots or rather shots that end abruptly before establishing their subject, especially the drone shots, which themselves have been used extensively and effectively to enhance the action sequences by adding momentum to the scenes and the events. Michael made extensive use of an FPV (First Person View) drone, which allows the pilot to see what the drone is seeing by means of a camera fitted on the drone that sends live feeds to the head-mounted display that the pilot is wearing. He, along with Executive Producer Michael Kase reached out to a drone racing world champion, Alex Vanover, who, along with drone coordinator David Dilillo, have done a great job of capturing action sequences in otherwise-tough-if-not-impossible ways.
The thing about a Michael Bay film is that he doesn’t take much time to build the plot before diving into the core of it. But this doesn’t mean he skips through important parts. An apt amount of time is dedicated to giving a summary of the situations of Will and Danny as well as their relationship. And then the movie goes ahead in its intended direction. It is not just about the chase but also about what is going on inside the ambulance, which adds to the thrill. The power dynamics inside the ambulance are constantly changing, and this is what raises the stakes even more. While Danny is coordinating everything, at moments, it’s Will in charge, while at others, it’s Cam.
The film has a story woven underneath all the mayhem that holds everything together. Time and again, it reminds us that Will is doing whatever he is doing for his wife, and that Danny, despite everything, loves Will all the same, and Will reciprocates the feeling too. And we have Cam, who does everything in her power to save the wounded cop. Throughout the film, we are able to understand the mental state of all three people inside the ambulance. The ending is certainly unexpected and tragic, with it being Will who shoots Danny and kills him. But there is a certain catharsis amidst all the pain, and it takes its time to transition into a somber, held-back ending that makes us take deep breaths as we try to lower the rush of adrenaline inside us.
The one thing which, for many, can become a drawback is the run-time of the film. At 136 minutes, approx., the chase does appear monotonous at times, despite all that’s happening. But the way in which the film keeps us involved in what’s going on inside the vehicle as well as outside appears almost simultaneously. This enables us to sit through the whole film, waiting to find out what happens next. The fact that things keep going south and have us on the edge of our seats till the point where Danny is shot also gives the film an edge of its own.
Overall, Michael Bay’s film is a raw entertainer of a movie that will do you better if you keep your assessments to yourself. Just sit back and enjoy the ride… in an “ambulance,” one of the best efforts of Michael Bay as a director, undoubtedly.