But where Ambulance really catches the eye, it’s in the way the film looks at contemporary America. Not only does it show a vision of Los Angeles such as we rarely see today, a mixture of huge skyscrapers that blur all horizons and horizontal spaces that suffocate the characters (we spend a good part of the film on board the ambulance), but it is also on the political level thatAmbulance clashes with the rest of Michael Bay’s work. Far from the blissful patriotism of Pearl Harbor, the film paints a fatalistic portrait of the United States at the end of the war in Afghanistan, unanimously recognized as an American defeat. “I hadn’t seen so much money since Afghanistan… and it was the money we had given to the Taliban”, says one of the robbers at the turn of a scene. A reply a priori without consequence except that it is almost unprecedented in a Michael Bay film and says all about the bitterness here at work. The “world policemen” have sided with their enemies.
Excellent Eiza González
Ambulance shows a diversity of characters of losers or forgotten heroes: on the one hand, veterans who do not benefit from any support from the State (the hero does not have enough money to pay for the medical care of his woman) and on the other, like the nurse excellently played by Eiza Gonzalez, those who toil to prevent the world from falling into chaos. While the Covid-19 crisis still requires medical staff to invest body and soul, the film is striking in its topicality and its sobriety in emotion. It is this energy of desperation that overflows from all sides and grabs the viewer’s attention, giving the impression that it is the characters themselves, their fates and their dilemmas, that pull the film off the rails in which it would have could get tangled up. Behind the impressive explosions and the few fat laughs, a real plea for more solidarity and humanity in a sadly individualistic society.
In the age of Marvel’s disembodied jerks, Ambulance demonstrates that action cinema has not yet completely lost itself in a form of artificial irony, that it can treat its issues seriously and this without ever being overwhelming. Everything that takes place in the film takes on extravagant dimensions — we won’t change Michael Bay — but the viewer’s involvement is due to the unexpected depth of the characters, the screenplay’s refusal to assign them a function so that everyone can identify with them and with the anger that overwhelms them. In 2022, Michael Bay recalls that he can also be a moving and unifying filmmaker.
Ambulancea film directed by Michael Bay, with Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza Gonzalez, 2h16, released on March 23, 2022