Every Insane Thing Jake Gyllenhaal Does In Ambulance

This post contains spoilers for "Ambulance."

The main character in Michael Bay's new Dramamine commercial "Ambulance" is his new collection of drone-mounted cameras. Cameras zip under flying cars, through narrow openings in scaffolding, in and out of tiny escape hatches, and quickly up and down the exteriors of several tall buildings in L.A. When he's not placing his camera four inches from the faces of his sweaty, sweaty actors, Bay is taking every opportunity to invent dizzying, flying shots that could never have been previously achieved without the aid of animation or CGI. The effect provides thrills, but also serves as an emetic. A warning to the curious reader: Should curiosity lead you into a theater showing "Ambulance," do not sit in the front half of the theater. The outsized photography will leave you seasick. 

Also starring in the film are several actors. Trapped in the eponymous ambulance are reluctant heister Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), his crazed criminal brother Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal), the paramedic they have taken hostage (Eiza González), and a comatose cop (Jackson White) who is barely being kept alive. Gyllenhaal serves as the villain of the picture, as the plot's central heist was his idea, and it will be he that insists gunfire be unleashed. He will also orchestrate several other acts of violence besides. Gyllenhaal, like in all of his projects, is wholly committed to the role, snacking on every piece of scenery within chewing distance of his mighty jaws. He mugs, screams, and sweats with a glorious villainous fervor. When Gyllenhaal slips into a groove of tactful overacting, "Ambulance" provides a modest distraction from its blinding visual noise. 

It's unknown how much of Gyllenhaal's insanity is scripted and how much he improvised, but it was all pretty fun. Here is a list of Danny's kookier behavior.

The heist

• When Will cannot secure the money or the insurance to buy medicine for his ailing wife (Moses Ingram), he goes to his brother Danny for a job. It just so happens that Danny was going to rob a bank that very morning, and he asks Will to come along. He doesn't seem to know the names of his crew, and is even a little unclear as to what roles they are going to play; this is clearly a hastily invented smash-and-grab job with a lot of wildcards. Danny calls one of his henchpeople "Mel," because Danny thinks he looks like Mel Gibson (he doesn't), and that the movie "Braveheart" "won a bunch of Emmys."

It's not established if Danny is a murderer, but we do learn that he and Will's father was once notorious for his robberies, and would often kill people out of convenience. Danny seems to want to take up the family's mantle — we eventually learn that Danny has robbed 37 banks prior to the heist featured in "Ambulance" — and is often encouraging others to kill cops. If there's one thing that will ensure the LAPD will back off and leave you alone, it's to kill a police officer. Note: Sarcasm is being used here for potentially comic effect.

Danny is constantly screaming, twitching, and sweating. He mutters to himself constantly. Gyllenhaal has clearly been given free rein to swing for the walls, and swing away he does. 

He sings Christopher Cross' insufferably soft 1979 song "Sailing" with Will during a moment of stress.

This is cashmere!

Eiza González's character — described as the best paramedic in town — blasts Danny in the face and upper torso with the ambulance's fire extinguisher. Although she is able to run a distance away from Danny, he recovers in time to hold her at gunpoint again. Danny is coated in the extinguisher's white powder. Despite being in the middle of a police chase, he has time to express dismay that his sweater is cashmere and is likely ruined. Men's cashmere pullovers are currently going for over $3,400 at Nordstrom. I suppose the millions he just stole shouldn't be earmarked for new clothing purchases. 

Danny hangs out of an Ambulance door and fires a machine gun at a helicopter. In Michael Bay movies, this is a typical Tuesday morning. 

Although he has robbed three dozen banks, Danny still runs a front company wherein he babysits hot cars for wealthy clients, and also appears to make deliveries for them as well. While in the middle of his chase, Danny calls one of his employees to arrange a vehicle swap (yes, in an ambulance). The employee reveals that a shipment of stuffed flamingos has accidentally been delivered to the warehouse, sending Danny into a rage. Gyllenhaal screams about those G.D. flamingos, and has to yell to his underling that the flamingos will have to be addressed later. (They never are.) 

So much choking

Danny chokes his brother numerous times, even while he's driving the ambulance (the characters take turns driving). This strikes me as unwise. 

Danny wears a mask in one scene, but it's not a scene wherein he has to hide his face from the police. The mask comes off in the next scene. One might logically deduce that it was to protect his face in the event of a potential (and to Danny, welcomed) gunfight, but the mask is disposed of immediately and he doesn't wear it during any other gunfights (of which there are plenty). "You think I want this??" Danny screams. Wearing that silly mask, it's clear he does. 

In describing his own life ethos, Danny says "We're locomotives. We don't stop." Given his cocaine-inflected line readings, I believe him.

This is more on the filmmakers than on Gyllenhaal, but throughout "Ambulance," several characters are assured they know their way around Los Angeles better than anyone. L.A. natives might recognize that the title Ambulance is taking a rather circuitous route around the city, often teleporting from one side of Downtown to the other. Curiously, Bay himself is an L.A. native, and yet he didn't seem to map out where the ambulance was going. 

Also, this is more a curious piece of trivia, but this is the third remake of a Danish film to feature Gyllenhaal. He was also in "Brothers," a 2009 remake of a 2004 film, and "The Guilty" a 2021 remake of a 2018 film. This is a strange niche to fill, but it seems someone must fill it.