A Jake Gyllenhaal Adrenaline Rush Is Rising On Streaming

Ambulance is in Netflix's Top Ten movies streaming.

By Joshua Jones | Published

One of director Michael Bay’s best movies is hitting it big on streaming. The 2022 thriller Ambulance starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, is ranked near the top on Netflix’s Top 10 movies of the week. The movie is also on Amazon Prime Video’s Top 10 charts, according to Flix Patrol.

Ambulance centers on Jake Gyllenhaal’s Daniel and Abdul-Mateen’s William, two adoptive siblings turned bank robbers who hijack an ambulance in Los Angeles. While on the run from the police, they take two first responders as hostages. The film was announced in 2015 before undergoing several crew changes.

The global Covid-19 pandemic forced Michael Bay to shoot an entirely different project than the one he agreed to helm. The director originally pitched a “small” film focusing on the tensions between two characters. At one point, Jake Gyllenhaal and Dylan O’Brien were set to star as the two siblings.  

However, O’Brien departed the project due to scheduling conflicts. He was soon replaced by Abdul-Mateen, who was set to begin production on the Aquaman sequel for Warner Bros. Discovery. Following a production delay on the DC comic book film, Abdul-Mateen joined Jake Gyllenhaal and actress Eiza Gonzales for the action thriller.

yahya abdul-mateen ii ambulance
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Jake Gyllenhaal in Ambulance (2022)

Gonzales spent three months “working intimately with firefighters, EMTs, surgeons, [and] everyone around the medical care system” to prepare for the role. According to Abdul-Mateen, the ambulance itself had such little space to film that it required Jake Gyllenhaal to hold the camera for a couple of takes. The crew adhered to Covid-19 safety protocols while working on set.

While filming the Jake Gyllenhaal-led actioner, Michael Bay spotted several patrol officers and three motorcycle cops and asked them if they wanted to star in the film. When they agreed, Bay took the opportunity to sweet-talk the officers into creating a roadblock, allowing them to close the freeway for free.

A big helicopter chase scene involving Jake Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen wasn’t in the script. Bay came up with the idea after two helicopters became available to him. The big action scene was shot in two and a half hours, and Bay had huge assistance from helicopter pilot Fred North.

Although Ambulance is marketed as another Michael Bay actioner, the story revolves around two siblings and their differences in how to deal with a difficult situation. During the marketing campaign, Entertainment Weekly stated that the film looked like “pure chaos” but pointed out Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in the trailer. According to iSpot, the studio had spent $33 million on television spots and even aired commercials for Ambulance during the Winter Olympics.

It turned out the marketing campaign wasn’t successful, as the Jake Gyllenhaal actioner only managed to gross $22.3 million in the United States and Canada. The film was released on the same weekend as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the wide expansion of A24’s Everything Everywhere All at Once. It also didn’t help that many fans were still burned by Michael Bay’s Transformers films from Paramount.

While the film didn’t receive a huge box office return, it still pleased a majority of critics. As of this writing, Ambulance currently sits at 68% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Wrap’s Robert Abele described Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance as “unconvincing” and criticized Michael Bay’s directing.

One thing to take away from Ambulance is that it allowed audiences to sit back and watch an action-packed thriller following the pandemic. It was another blockbuster-esque film for Jack Gyllenhaal after he played Mysterio in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home. The actor is set to star in the remake of 1989’s Roadhouse. Gyllenhaal will take on the role of James Dalton, played previously by Patrick Swayze.

Ambulance was Jake Gyllenhaal’s first collaboration with Michael Bay. For a good portion of his career, Bay has worked on the Transformers franchise for Paramount studios. Although Paramount is continuing with the franchise, Bay will not be at the helm for the next installment.

As for Jake Gyllenhaal, the actor has a diverse body of work. When he’s not starring in blockbuster fare, Gyllenhaal is earning much attention during awards season. The actor received numerous award nominations over the years, including for his performance in 2014’s Nightcrawler.

It’s unlikely that Ambulance will get a sequel, considering the film’s low box office and the fate of Jake Gyllenhaal’s character. Despite the modest box office, everyone involved is still receiving major work in the industry.