Michael Bay is a name you either love or hate. And many times, whether you love him or hate him depends on what movie of his you’re watching at the time. I personally love Bay. Back in the 90s and early 2000s he was the KING of “stupid”action movies. The Rock, Armageddon, Bad Boys, Bad Boys II: the list goes on and on and on. Heck, even the Transformers movies of his were mega blockbusters and good dumb fun until they got so repetitive that even this reviewer started to get weary of them. Well, after Transformers: The Last Knight in 2017 Michael Bay pretty much went radio silent as a director (outside of doing that Netflix exclusive 6 Underground back in 2020) and I thought he had pretty much run his course. Then I started hearing rumors this year of Bay coming back to what he does best, dumb comedy, and I was intrigued. At this point I was just a BIT worn out from his last several Transformers movies, but then I started hearing reports of how Ambulance was actually a fun movie, a huge hit, AND a return to form the master of explosions himself.
Now, I’m not exactly one to shy away from dumb action. I love Jake Gyllenhaal, I love explosions, and the trailer looked like a lot of fun, so when the disc came to review from my friend, I strapped in and just let the joyride begin. Our story starts out with a hardened EMT named Cam Thompson. She’s become jaded after having spent years saving people’s lives and letting them off at the hospital, but today she’s about to learn just why she does what she does. Segue over to our other main hero, Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), an ex-Marine who is up to his eyeballs in debt and no way to save his wife from dying of cancer without a big influx of cash. Luckily (or not so luckily maybe) for him, his adopted brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a prolific bank robber who Will has been staying away from for quite some time. Well, Danny boy has a job for Will and it’s enough to net them MILLIONS. It’s a simple bank robbery where they go in, get out, and get filthy stinking rich. Danny just needs a driver for his crew, and this is Will’s lucky day. Yeah, we already know that things don’t exactly go as planned. A teach of special SIS agents from the L.A.P.D. SWAT department have been keeping tabs of Danny’s crew for weeks, and upon exiting the building Danny’s men are mowed down in a hail of gunfire. However, Danny and Will make their escape by hopping on Cam Thompson’s Ambulance and using it to make a daring escape with $16 million worth of cash, lots of guns, and a wounded cop on board. The best way to describe Ambulance is that it’s part Bad Boys, part heist movie, and 3 parts Speed. 90% of the movie takes place withing the Ambulance as Will and Danny outrun cops, blow things sky high, and figure out a way to get the heck out of dodge and away with their money.
On the surface the movie is ridiculously dump and simple. It’s Speed with an Ambulance. Except there’s no Dennis Hopper maniacally keeping everyone on track, and Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely hamming it up to level 11 as the loveable/hateable/psychotic/brilliant Danny Sharp. But Michael Bay is a skilled surgeon when it comes to doing pure action, and he’s right at home in his element here. Things blow up with such reckless abandon that I was laughing myself silly with this huge grin over my face the entire time. And Jake Gyllenhaal is such an insane villain/hero that you want him to die, but you want him to actually get away at the same time.
The charm is just delicious, with Michael Bay winking and nodding at his own films (they actually make jokes about The Rock and Bad Boys throughout the runtime) and while Danny is main attractant, Garret Dillahunnt almost matches Jake blow for blow with his over the top commando routine.
I’m gonna come out and say it. This is Michael Bay doing what Michael Bay does best. When they asked him “what kind of movie do you want Michael? Do you want to do Bad Boys? Do you want to do Speed? And how many explosions do you want”, his response had to have been “yes, all of it”. The movie is stupid, the movie is shallow, but it’s kept alive with sheer adrenaline and the charisma of everyone involved. I’m not wild about Yahya Abdul-Mateen the II, but he does well as Will, but it’s really Jake and Garret who just eat the scenery up like only Peter Stormaire can do in a Michael Bay film. Yeah, it’s not perfect, it gets a little hokey near the end, but Bay keeps the adrenaline pumping so hard and so fast that you don’t have time to slow down and analyze things to death. This is Bayhem with Baysplosions everywhere, and if you’ve seen his previous big name works, you know what the man is capable of. So buckle in and prepare for unlimited ammo, unlimited wise cracks, and a LOT of explosions.
Using a variety of RED cameras and finished in a native 4K master, Ambulance ROCKS onto 2160p with a stellar encode that blows the already great 1080p Blu-ray straight out of the water. The disc is just about perfect, with razor sharp details, incredible background shots, and nonstop kinetic movement that never gets blurry or artifacts. Quite literally this is one of the best looking encodes that I’ve seen in a long time, with only minor elements of softness when in Papi’s lair, or some of the CGI looking a little bit wonky in 4K. I didn’t notice banding or other major elements at play with the encode. HDR is silky deep, as the color tones tend to be cool blue or slightly amber, and bright red blood just splashes everywhere. The green of the spray paint over the vehicle stands out sharply and with deep saturation, and as I said, except for some mild haziness inside Papi’s lair, this is just about PERFECT.
Did I mention this was a Michael Bay movie? It goes without saying that this is a reference level Atmos mix that just tears the walls down with abject fury. The score pulsates with deep bass energy from the first few moments of the movie, and the sound stage is just awash with chaos, Bayhem and carnage from every angle. Bullets bounce off the car at the rear, ricochet to the front of the sound stage, all the while tires screech, the score throbs, and cars blow up upon impact at just about every facet of the run time. Yeah, this is pure Bay awesome sauce, and if you like them big, like them loud, and like the bass to just punish you brutally, then this is the mix for you.
Ambulance is silly, but it’s silly fun. I love it! High octane energy with Jake Gyllenhaal absolutely LOVING every second of his hammy role. It’s dumb fun, and dumb fun in a way that I haven’t seen for YEARS in cinema. Action movies have become so stale recently, that I really feel like this and Top Gun:Maverick pretty much saved cinemas. The 4K UHD disc is also nothing short of superb, with good extras, a killer video encode and a Michael Bay approved audio mix that will tear the walls down. Recommended as good sloppy Michael Bay fun. The Blu-ray is no slouch either, which tends to shine brighter than 4K but obviously less defined. Sound is great on Blu-ray but you only get the Atmos track on the 4K disc. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️