To my astonishment, not enough people are talking about the best blockbuster I’ve seen this year, Ambulance (2022). I was skeptical about the film’s plot; it felt more like Die Hard (1988) meets John Q (2002) at first, but the film took me by surprise when the real action started rolling in. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko) and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (The Matrix Resurrections), Ambulance is a film not only about a bank heist gone wrong but also about brotherhood. Will (Abdul-Mateen II) struggles to pay for his wife’s experimental surgery and goes to his brother, Danny (Gyllenhaal) for a loan. The twist is that their father was notorious for robbing banks and Danny has decided to take on the family business… you can see where this is going. Next, Danny convinces Will to help him with the bank heist along with other cooperators, so he can afford to pay for his wife’s operation. But, as Robert Burns once said, “The best-laid schemes of mice and men often go askew” as in, the bank robbery could have gone according to plan; if a cop didn’t stop by the bank to ask one of the tellers out on a date. Blood spews, after the bank heist falls apart, as the robbers and cops are firing at one another. This is when the film becomes more interesting. We see an insane amount of tracking shots of the action such as one of the men being run over by the getaway truck. It’s safe to say that Ambulance starts off slow, but quickly picks up the pace when we move from a bank heist to a police car chase plot, or in this case an ambulance chase.
I have to say, Ambulance may feel like a typical heist-thriller but, it’s well diverse compared to other action films. Yes, there are lots of action films with an all-colored cast, and clearly, Ambulance isn’t 100% diverse, but it’s diverse enough for the film to be taken seriously. We have Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as one of our lead protagonists (and no he is not villainized in the film, we see him as a sympathetic character), Eiza González who plays the EMT Cam Thompson (she’s Mexican, by the way), Wale Folarin as Castro (he’s Nigerian-American and does not get killed), Keir O’Donnell as FBI agent Anson Clark who’s in a gay relationship, and we have A Martinez as Papi (Martinez is half Mexican and Native American). It’s also important to note, that while the film is plot-driven by having us in awe with the aerial FPV shots done by drones; the character arcs are well-written to make you understand the character’s desires and motives, which is why you will most likely cry at the end of the film.
As for the brotherhood theme, Ambulance isn’t the type of film that hires a well-known black actor to create diversity as Abdul-Mateen II’s race is very much part of the film. We know Will is Danny’s adoptive brother from the beginning and when one of the gangsters called out Will for being Danny’s pretend brother; Danny was furious, as this may not be the first time people have speculated that Will and Danny are not biologically related. Notably, Abdul-Mateen II’s character was a war veteran; whereas, Gyllenhaal’s character was a lifelong criminal. The film makes sure that Abdul-Mateen II’s character is not depicted stereotypically for being black. Likewise, González’s character is not the hot-blooded Latina trope in this film; we see her as a heroine and survivor in the end.
My only regret is not seeing the film in theatres, which all you readers should because it’s worth your money. Ambulance will have you laughing at times, which is good because we all need a laugh every once in a while; your heart will be racing with excitement and panic, and that's when you realized you just watched the best blockbuster of the season. For the full mind-blowing effect, you can experience the thrill of Ambulance in theatres, preferably in IMAX or if you're like me, you can stream it now on Peacock.