Ambulance ★★★★½

"My brother didn't do anything. He's a good man. But I'm not."

There's a reason Bay jokingly (and in trademark immodest fashion) has a supporting character name-check not just the first, but the first TWO '90s action spectaculars that put him on the map in the initial act of his latest "one for me" blow 'em up extravaganza. It's not just hubris run amok, but a signpost saying "we're going back to the beginning" with AMBULANCE. In essence, this is Bay's SPEED: a breathless, stripped down, high concept 135-minute chase movie that makes you feel like you just exhumed and free based a chunk of the bloated, coke poisoned corpse of Don Simpson. The reckless auteur is not just nostalgic for the past and paying homage, but using untethered drone photography and a new breed of movie star (his very favorite sort of performer) to straight up make 'em like they used to 30 years ago.

Sure, there's some progressive (by Bay's standards, anyway) messaging about forgotten veterans and the state of the healthcare system, but what you're really here for is the feature length expansion of the central bank robbery set piece from HEAT, where Dennis Haysbert is lured back into a life of crime by a former hardcore colleague. Only Bay is just as juiced up as usual, tossing in his usual brawny military hardware fetishism and love of muscular, unapologetic violence. In an era where every single blockbuster CGI spectacle seems safe thanks to branding and fan service, Bay has you rooting for morally compromised individuals just trying to set themselves up for a future that might not even exist, should they succeed in the first place. What follows is large caliber mayhem, twisted metal, and irresponsible humor - all fingerprints of a cinematic madman who's getting back to basics and delivering what made him famous in the first place: an adult entertainment where anyone can possibly die at any moment and, beyond even the metric tons of pure craft of display, that's what's so fucking thrilling about it.

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