Michael Bay’s New Movie Has A Seriously Surprising Rotten Tomatoes Score

By Doug Norrie | 4 weeks ago

michael bay ambulance

One would never call Michael Bay a darling of the critics. In fact, it’s been almost completely opposite for much of his career. His style and flair for the explosive above almost all else have landed him in the critical crosshairs for sure over the years. While his movies have played well for the popcorn crowd (that’s not a knock at all), they haven’t necessarily been the kind that have him walking up to award podiums. And when it comes to Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator, it’s looked downright vicious at times. Which is all why his latest movie, Ambulance is really turning heads. Because it turns out that critics, well, actually like it. 

Over on Rotten Tomatoes, Ambulance has a score of 68% through 185 reviews. For many movies, this would be a decent though far from thriving score. More than two-thirds of critics had positive things to say about it, which if you are an accomplished director in Hollywood would be where you’d likely want to land. But this score stands in stark contrast to much of what Michael Bay has done throughout his career and definitely is divergent from what he’s done lately. For a Michael Bay movie, scoring 68% is like most others scoring 100%. This simply doesn’t happen, and it’s great to see.

Consider some of his other directorial work and how it was perceived by critics at the time. There was the Ryan Reynolds-led, 6 Underground which hit Netflix a couple of years ago. That scored 36% which frankly feels high all things considered. And then there was Transformers: The Last Knight which wallowed in the basement at 15%. He had a couple of middle-of-the-road, kind of anti-Michael Bay films in Pain & Gain and 13 Hours which scored 50% and 51% respectively. But the 17% Transformers: Age of Extinction was also crammed in there as well. 

michael bay ambulance

In general, the Rotten Tomatoes page for Michael Bay is a see of green tomato splotches, with only the occasional producer’s credit mixing in to give a splash of red. One has to go all the way back to almost where it started with The Rock at 68% in 1996 to find a movie that critics latched onto. Now, this all stands as almost inversely proportional to how watchable and rewatchable Michael Bay movies really are. There’s a reason The Rock, Bad Boys, and Transformers still play when they show up in rotation on cable or streaming. They are just fun. 

Which brings us to Ambulance, Michael Bay’s latest movie, a bank heist-gone-wrong film starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen. From all appearances, the movie has the Michael Bay hallmarks of large set pieces, plenty of explosions, plenty of slow-mo sweeping shots, and tons of action. But in the case of this movie, it sure looks like critics went in knowing what to expect and walked out pleasantly surprised and even satisfied with the result. There’s a feeling that Bay stuck the landing in making, well, a Michael Bay film. 

The true irony here is that while Michael Bay finally made a movie critics liked, audiences just didn’t seem to turn out to see it. It had a disappointing first weekend at the box office and could be in line for an underperforming run. Such is Hollywood where nothing seems to make sense.