It was supposed to be easy.
In and out, a one-off, and they would soon be $32 million richer.
It wasn’t Danny Sharp’s first time robbing a bank. Actually, it was his 38th time. And his father had been a notoriously effective thief, too. Danny had planned this heist down to the most minute detail to make it go as smoothly as the rest of them had gone. At the last minute, he’d even recruited the help of his adoptive brother Will, an unemployed Purple Heart veteran who desperately needs money to pay for his wife’s surgery.
But what wasn’t part of Danny’s plan was taking Zach, a police officer who showed up on that bank to ask a pretty teller out, hostage. And what definitely wasn’t part of the plan was Will shooting Officer Zach. Because if they kill a police officer, Danny and Will just signed their death warrant.
And as their plan falls apart as the bank is swarmed by law enforcement, the cornered Danny and Will choose their last option: hijacking an ambulance—the one that just so happens to be carrying the dying Zach and EMT Cam Thompson to the hospital. With their unintentional hostages in the back and cop cars quickly closing in on them, Danny tells Cam to keep Zach alive—or he’ll make sure she quickly joins him in the afterlife.
As the list of criminal charges against Danny and Will grows by the second, and as explosions dot the Los Angeles landscape wherever their careening ambulance goes, it’s looking more and more likely that none of them will be walking away from this one.
But that prospect doesn’t deter Danny Sharp. “We’re Sharp,” he says. “We don’t stop.”
As an EMT, Cam deals with horrible things on a daily basis … and she’s become numb to it. She tells her newbie partner that the worst day in the life of the people she’s helping is just another hour in her work week. That, she implies, is what enables her to keep the emotional distance to do her job very effectively—such as when she helps keeps a little girl alive who’s been impaled by a piece of fence in a horrific car accident.
But when Cam gets kidnapped by Danny and Will and is thrust into her own worst day of her life, she learns that she doesn’t need to repress her emotions. She’s allowed to cry, and she doesn’t have to be the tough one all the time. That said, she’s still pretty tough throughout most of her hostage ordeal—during which she works mightily to keep Officer Zach alive. She also begins to develop sympathy for Will, whom she realizes has made some of his terrible choices for the sake of trying to support his wife’s medical needs.
Though we cannot approve of Will agreeing to rob a bank nor many of his actions within the film, the movie makes it clear that Will genuinely wants to do things the right way. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy. He wants to be able to pay for his wife’s surgery, and he doesn’t want to hurt anyone—often being the voice of reason to his erratic, megalomaniac brother. The majority of his immoral decisions are due to Danny’s incessant pressuring, bullying and manipulation. Over the course of the film, Will’s loyalties begin to shift from his brother to protecting Cam and Officer Zach.
When a police officer gets blamed for failing to stop a bank robbery, the captain of the team steps up and takes responsibility for the mistake, explaining that it was his own call, so it’s his own fault.
The police force as a whole works as diligently as possible to stop Danny and Will from inflicting further injury, as well as in trying to save the two hostages onboard the hijacked ambulance.
A man says “God bless you.” We see a homemade wooden cross. Another man wears cross earrings and has statues depicting angels. Danny prays silently.
FBI Agent Clark is gay, and we see him in counseling with his husband. They kiss, though his husband is never seen nor referenced afterwards.
Will and his wife, Amy, kiss. Zach and another police officer talk about Zach asking a woman out on a date. Danny says he has herpes.
Michael Bay has a multidecade reputation for directing and producing movies filled with explosions and violence, including Transformers, The Purge and Armageddon. Ambulance continues that craft with ample blood, gore and fiery explosions. In general, many cars crash, myriads of bullets are fired, pints of blood paint Los Angeles red, and people die.
Cam and her EMT partner arrive to a gruesome car crash, and they pull a bloody woman out of a wrecked car. Cam holds the hand of a young girl in the car whose stomach is pierced by a piece of a metal fence. Later, Cam is forced to operate on Zach, and we watch as she cuts open his stomach and sticks her hand deep into his abdominal wound, feeling around for a bullet. We see Zach’s internal organs, and we watch his spleen burst. Zach wakes up during the surgery, and Will has to knock him out.
Cam sprays Danny and Will with a fire extinguisher. Danny knocks an EMT unconscious with a gun, and he frequently shoots at police officers, though his aim is as poor as his plan. Danny and Will gun down a group of gang members. Danny and Will fight one another in the ambulance. Danny forcefully slams Cam down in the ambulance, and he attempts to shoot her. He also grabs Cam by the throat, and Cam uses a defibrillator on him to fight back. He threatens many people with guns, and he is said to have robbed 38 banks. Danny and Will are shot at by snipers and police continually.
Will shoots Zach and eventually takes him hostage. He speeds down the streets of Los Angeles for nearly the entirety of this movie. Will swerves his ambulance to cause people in the back of it to fall over. He also assists Cam in operating on Zach.
During the bank robbery and subsequent gunfight, a man is hit by a moving truck, and we see his leg bent in an unnatural way as he bleeds to death. Another man is graphically shot through the head, and yet another is seen shot to death.
In the car chases, countless cop cars crash, sometimes in spectacular fashion, causing us to wonder if any passengers could have possibly survived. Two police cars crash into cinderblocks. Another car careens off a steep hill. They crash through fruit stands, into one another and are shot up.
In another fight, gang members rig a vehicle with C4 explosives, and they detonate it amid a group of police officers; it’s clear many are severely injured. The same gang members also use a remote-operated vehicle with a massive machine gun to shoot at police officers. Both instances end in multiple officers dead on the ground. One character is shot through the head in a scuffle. A man is propelled through the air by a grenade launcher explosion.
[Spoiler Warning] Cam accidentally shoots Will. Will intentionally shoots Danny.
Profanities fly out of peoples’ lips like they are going out of style. More than 90 f-words are heard (six of which are preceded by “mother”), and we hear more than 55 uses of the s-word. We hear one use of the n-word. “A–,” “b–ch,” “d–n” and “h—” are also frequently used. “P-ss” is used twice, and “d–k” is heard once. God’s name is misused at least 14 times, and five of those are followed by “d–n.” Jesus’ name is inappropriately used eight times. We hear multiple crude references to the male anatomy.
An EMT asks Cam if she is drinking a beer at lunch while they’re on duty (She tells him it’s non-alcoholic). A smoker smokes a cigar on two occasions. Agent Clark references rosé wine. We see Amy’s prescription medication. Cam mentions that she used to be addicted to speed and got kicked out of med school for it.
An EMT says he’s going to vomit. Will repeatedly lies to his wife about where he is and who he’s with. Jokes are made about a police captain’s dog—specifically the canine’s noxious gas.
Basing a movie around a car chase in Los Angeles makes me think that the traffic in La La Land must not be quite as bad as I imagined. Either that, or Will Sharp is a really good driver, and I can’t help but wonder why the unemployed man desperate for money didn’t drive for Uber.
Michael Bay’s Ambulance takes us on a two-hour car chase with an added twist: What if the criminals’ getaway vehicle was an ambulance, and they had the added problem of needing to keep a dying man alive in the back?
Bay also asks another question: What if they spent half of the budget on fake blood and the other half on exploding cars? That’s not exactly a new question by Bay’s standards, but it’s one he loves asking, and it’s no different in this film.
Danny and Will are two brothers who are just trying to rob a meager $32 million in a one-off bank heist (though Danny’s actually robbed 37 banks before this one, so “38-off” would be more accurate for him). Will needs the money to pay for his wife’s expensive experimental surgery, and Danny needs the money because he’s a bad guy who likes money, and that’s all you’re going to get for an explanation. Obviously, Will comes across as the more sympathetic of the two.
And as they subsequently hijack an ambulance and take us through the uncrowded streets of Los Angeles, they’ll show us just what kind of bad guy Danny actually is. We’ll see police officers get shot and blown up. We watch Danny shoot at pursuers directly after telling Will to not shoot any police officers. There’s tons of car crashes and explosions, and we watch enough blood drip from dead and dying bodies to cover the Santa Monica State Beach. Though the ambulance runs on gasoline, the characters in the film seem to run on swear words, spouting nearly two hundred vulgarities throughout the film—almost half of them the f-word.
By the end of the movie, as we sit there wondering what the point of all of it was, we can only come to the conclusion that someone just had $40 million to blow on car crashes and explosions.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank betrayed his roots by leaving the wheat behind to study journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics.