Ambulance ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
Two robbers steal an ambulance after their heist goes awry. Out in cinemas now.
The plot for the latest Michael Bay film is essentially an excuse to showcase a very prolonged car chase from beginning to end. After bank heist goes wrong, two brothers hijack an ambulance and set off on a high-speed pursuit that never seems to stop, as they try to keep their hostages alive.
For the last few decades Michael Bay’s movies have been synonymous of explosions, fast cutting, stylistic visuals, special effects … and let’s be honest, dumb scripts and heavily objectifying women.
Critics (Mark Kermode being one of the most vocal) have been describing Bay’s way of filming actresses as “lascivious” and “pornographic” and have criticised the director’s constant sexist remarks and stereotypical female characters.
According to the “Urban Dictionary” website “In order to appreciate his dumb shock and awe style, you must either be stupid enough to think on his level or smart enough not to care how intellectual a movie about robots and explosions is”. And while such definition feels harsh, I can’t help sharing some of that feeling too.
His over-dependency on slow motions, used pretty much every time there’s an explosion or a loud noise (so basically all the time in his films), have now become almost parody of the genre itself. Not to mention Bay’s love for low-angle shots looking up at characters getting out of cars.
The last Bay film I actually enjoyed was probably The Rock, starring Sean Connery, Ed Harris and Nicholas Cage, and that was back in 1996.
Ever since then, the director has given us the silly Armageddon, the almost insulting Pearl Harbour and the abysmal Transformers movies. He’s also been producing some of the most pointless remakes of classic horrors from the ‘70s and ‘80s: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Amityville Horror, The Hitcher, Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. None of which came even close to the originals and most of them were panned by critics and audiences alike.
So you can imagine my surprise when about half way through Ambulance I realised I wasn’t actually hating the film as much as I was expecting and in fact I thought it was quite entertaining, in a very “turn-your-brain-off” type of way. I was also pleased to notice that some of the most offending aspects of Bay’s sensibility had been finally turned off for once.
There are in the film some obvious echoes from Speed, another movie constantly “on the move”, (though it’s more difficult to empathise with shouty-shouty Jake Gyllenhall as we did with Keanu Reeves) and while, of course, it is too long and Bay’s tendency to over-cut things, as if on steroids, his lack of self-aware humour and his love for showing off with his new drone-toy, which pointlessly flies up and down skyscrapers, along roads and across all sort rooms rather randomly, did get a little bit on my nerves, as an action flick, Ambulance is a perfectly serviceable one: it’s full of action set-pieces and it “does what it says on the tin”.
In fact I’d go even further and say that it’s one of the best films Bay has done in decades!
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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