Perhaps it’s a sign that big-budget filmmaking has fallen to such a new low (Morbius, out this week on 4K!) that we’re coming back around to the attributes of Michael Bay. But whether he’s being graded on a curve or not, Bay really has found the perfect vehicle (heh) for his style with Ambulance, a simple story (bank robbers use an ambulance as a getaway car) that matches and elevates his usual relentlessness. It’s openly Bay’s attempt to make a Michael Mann movie, a shotgun marriage of Heat‘s sprawling study of L.A. crime and Collateral‘s single-minded premise that for awhile lives up to both expectations, particularly in how audaciously Bay films L.A. architecture; the gravity- and space-defying drone camerawork here is every bit the equal of Mann’s digital photography, using new technology to create an entirely new cinematic language from the ground up. The bulk of the drone shots are in the first half and it’s no coincidence that that’s the best stretch of the movie, but it maintains a furious momentum throughout, often on the back of its fiercely committed cast. Even Bay’s aggressive dad jokes seem just right coming from the mouth of a frightening, goofy Jake Gyllenhaal, playing a Louis Bloom type who’s convinced he’s Bugs Bunny.
It wasn’t that long ago when many critics saw Paul Verhoeven as a garish schlockmeister in the Bay vein, and now like politicians, ugly buildings, and whores, he’s lasted long enough that he’s respectable. The talk around him has changed but he hasn’t, he’s talked up RoboCop as his movie about Jesus and accordingly Bendetta, the fully religious movie he’s been building towards his whole career, is RoboCop for lesbian nuns, complete with a rousing action climax. Lambert Wilson even gets to play the Ronny Cox part (just working for the Catholic Church rather than Omni Consumer Products), and he gets a kiss-off line every bit as good as “Dick, you’re fired!”. But as with RoboCop, there’s real emotion to go along with the smartass touches (like the visions of Jesus as a sexier Indiana Jones), and the lesbian relationship at its center is every bit as tender as the rest of the movie is gross and violent.
Ahed’s Knee (Kino)
Ambulance 4K (Universal)
The Clock (Warner Archive Collection)
Farewell Amor (Criterion)
Father Stu (Sony)
Herzog: The Collection, Vol. 2 (Shout Factory)
Last of the Dogmen (Kino)
Love and Human Remains (Sony)
Morbius 4K (Sony)
Raiders of the Lost Ark 4K (Paramount)
Vive L’Amour (Film Movement)