By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Lots of crashes, blood, swearing in Michael Bay chase movie.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Movie asks questions about what makes a hero and what makes a villain. Even while it oversimplifies things in some ways, it's still an interesting theme worth discussing.
Positive Role Models
Cam can be a bit short and unemotional, but she's also heroic and strong and saves lives. Will, despite making a poor choice, is decent and helpful; he gives blood to save a life, tries to do the right thing whenever possible. Other main character Danny is a through-and-through villain.
The three main characters are a White man, a Black man, and a Latina. Two secondary male characters are married. Wide range of diverse background characters. Brief "dragon lady" stereotype of an angry Asian woman.
Inclusion information: Black actors, Latinx actors
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Violence & Scariness
Lots of blood: spurts, puddles, etc. Heavy gun use/shooting. Characters are injured and killed. Gory operating sequence. Bloody wounds. Tons of car crashes. Explosions. Punching, fighting. Child in car crash, metal post impaled through her torso, in pain. Fire extinguisher to face. Man grabs a woman, holds her down. Frequent arguing.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief, affectionate kisses between couples.
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Very strong language, with uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bulls--t," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "a--hole," the "N" word, "goddamn," "ass," "dumbass," "moron," "d--k," "balls," "Jesus Christ." Middle-finger gestures.
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Products & Purchases
Several brands showcased: Nike swoosh on character's shirt, characters eat/discuss Cheetos, Keurig Coffee mentioned, Oxygen banking app shown, Birkenstock sandals shown and mentioned. References to earlier Bay movies Bad Boys and The Rock.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Character says that she was addicted to speed. Cigar smoking. Pill bottles shown (to indicate that a character is ill).
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ambulance is director Michael Bay's action movie about two thieves hijacking an ambulance and starting a massive chase across Los Angeles. It's chaotic, show-offy, and too long, but it has likable characters and an offbeat, appealing sense of humor. Violence includes guns and shooting, deaths, blood spurts/puddles, bloody wounds, crashes, explosions, fighting, punching, a gory operation, and a child in pain and peril (a metal post is shown protruding from her torso). Strong language includes frequent uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more. Several brands are shown or mentioned, including Nike, Cheetos, Birkenstocks, Keurig Coffee, etc. A character says that she was addicted to speed, there's brief cigar smoking, and prescription pills are shown. Two couples kiss briefly.
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What's the Story?
In AMBULANCE, former U.S. Marine Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) is out of work, has a small child, and needs more than $200,000 for an operation for his wife. He goes to his adoptive brother, Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), a career criminal, to ask for help. Instead, Danny asks Will to come along on a bank robbery, which he promises will go off without a hitch. Meanwhile, a rookie cop (Jackson White) who's worked up the nerve to ask out one of the bank tellers, talks his way into the bank while the robbery is in progress. The cop upsets the robbery and is shot. Will and Danny see their chance for escape when an ambulance arrives to pick up the wounded man. With kidnapped EMT Cam Thompson (Eiza González) in tow, the robbers must go on the run while keeping the bleeding cop alive -- or face the wrath of the entire LAPD.
Is It Any Good?
A typically over-the-top Michael Bay production, this exhausting, far too long action movie still surprisingly passes muster with its batch of colorful, likable characters and wiry sense of humor. With the bulk of the movie's running time following the ambulance racing through city streets while pursued by cops, as well as multiple crashes and shoot-outs, Ambulance certainly could have benefited from some tightening. One of the biggest twists -- a plan to use decoys to finally evade the police -- takes a very long time from conception to execution, and a good deal of momentum is lost along the way. Plus, it's just hard to be constantly gripping your armrests for that long.
Additionally, Bay's pointless, show-offy camerawork, with daredevil swoops from bizarre, impossible angles, may cause headaches. Even so, Ambulance has so many quirky touches -- and such an appealingly strange sense of humor -- that moments like a desperate, ruthlessly gory life-saving operation or a break to listen to a little Christopher Cross are irresistible. Gyllenhaal, especially, is at the top of his game, as manic and zany here as he was in Bong Joon-ho's Okja, barking one-liners in a way that suggests he's really enjoying all this. His enthusiasm seems to lift up co-stars Abdul-Mateen and González, and they feed on his energy. A fine use of Los Angeles locations and backdrops completes the picture, ultimately making this a not bad big-screen offering.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about Ambulance's violence. How did it make you feel? Was it exciting? Shocking? What did the movie show or not show to achieve this effect? Why is that important?
Are Danny and Will heroes? Villains? Anti-heroes? Were you rooting for them to get away or to get caught? Why?
Are characters three-dimensional and powerful, or are stereotypes used? Why is diverse representation important in the media?
Do you consider Cam a role model? Does she have agency? Why is that important?
- In theaters: April 8, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: April 29, 2022
- Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Jake Gyllenhaal
- Director: Michael Bay
- Inclusion Information: Black actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Cars and Trucks
- Run time: 136 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: intense violence, bloody images and language throughout
- Last updated: October 11, 2022
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