Ambulance [8/10]

A car chase caper married to a heist thriller married to a mismatched-brothers saga, “Ambulance” travels so much familiar ground that the first half hour evokes all those other humdrum, dumb-fuck movies I watch and then swear “never again.” Over two-anbd-a-quarter hours, director Michael Bay amps up the motorized action and multiple-body carnage so much that a recent memory of The Gray Man regurgitated itself. And yet, and yet … what saves this action phantasmagoria is the combination of a genuinely whip-smart screenplay by Chris Fedak, chock full of crackling dialogue, and a trio of actors who bring what could have been cartoonish characters into the daylight of genuine empathy. Jake Gyllenhaal is wonderful as risk-taking, joshing criminal Danny Sharp, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II strikes exactly the right vibes as Danny’s adoptive black brother Will. And Eiza Gonzalez continually threatens to steal the show from those two, in her role as the ambulance paramedic caught in a multimillion-dollar heist-gone-wrong escape. All the bit players are well cast and played, with each of them resonating as real folks. The plotting is superb, Michael Bay’s direction never wavers, and the music rocks. All in all, Ambulance is one genuine positive shock to the system during the closing months of 2022, a thriller that thrills involving people who are people.

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