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“Ambulance” review: Michael Bay is our emergency cinema technician


Before the chase and shootout begins, the titular vehicle and its heroic EMT, Cam Thompson (Eiza González), tend to a young car accident victim who has been impaled on a piece of iron fencing. forge. This kind of misadventure is a staple of shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “9-1-1,” and “Ambulance” can be seen as a sustained critique of television’s domesticated presentation of disaster. Cam saves the child in the morning and at rush hour, he performs emergency abdominal surgery in the middle of a car chase while talking to trauma surgeons via video chat. Exploding cars and exploding spleen, in perfect counterpoint: that’s cinema, children.

So do the wild vertical drone shots in which the camera soars skyward before plunging back down to earth, a carnival move that Bay adds to her repertoire of dizzying, ricocheting, dizzying effects. And so, finally, is the story, an old-fashioned string of coincidences, collisions, and surefire plans gone horribly wrong.

At the center is a daylight robbery that snatches $32 million from a bank — a modest gain from the $100 million Sean Connery was after in 1996’s “The Rock,” especially considering of inflation. The main robbers are Danny (Gyllenhaal) and Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), who grew up like brothers, raised by a criminal father. Flashbacks show their childhood in play, but as adults they took divergent paths. Danny followed in Dad’s footsteps, while Will joined the Marines. Now married (to Moses Ingram) with an infant son, he is desperate for money to pay for his wife’s cancer treatment. Stopping at Danny’s place of business to ask for a loan, he ends up signing with Danny’s crew.

Eventually, they’re joined by two hostages: Cam and a rookie cop named Zach (Jackson White), whose partner, Mark (Cedric Sanders), is part of an elaborate tour of the freeways and back streets of Los Angeles that also involves a lot others people on both sides of the law. It all ends pretty much where you expect it to, but the actors do a good job of bubbling and emotionally under pressure, and Gyllenhaal does a volatile, charming sociopath thing that isn’t as dull as it could be. being.

So, after much deliberation, my critical verdict on “Ambulance” is: It’s a movie!

Ambulance
R.F-rated bombs, exploding cars, a ruptured spleen. Duration: 2h16. In theaters.

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