10 Movies To Watch If You Loved Ambulance

There's something weirdly comforting about a Michael Bay film. Sure, they're corny at best and ham-fistedly pro-military at worst — but when it all comes together, they're delightfully uncomplicated and effortlessly cool. Bay's latest, "Ambulance," is certainly that kind of film, though it still manages to get a few heartfelt licks in between its gratuitous drone shots. And whether you're ready to admit that you actually enjoyed "Ambulance," it's okay to acknowledge that these films can be fun. Sometimes you just need to sit back, kick up your feet, and let a film do the thinking for you. 

But why stop at "Ambulance"? Bay is certainly not the first to dial a bank robbery to a disastrous degree, or even explore the cat-and-mouse dynamic between the boys in blue and the criminals in their sights. If you're on the hunt for a few more high-octane thrillers (or even just a glorified road trip movie or two) here are 10 films that will keep the Bayhem going for just a while longer.


Fans of the perpetual motion in "Ambulance" might also be interested in the slow burn drama "Locke." The film stars Tom Hardy as a construction foreman who, after a long day at work, jumps into his car — but instead of heading home to his wife and kids, he drives in the opposite direction. Towards what? It's not clear at first, but the truth (and Locke's carefully-curated life) slowly begins to unravel with each call he makes from inside his car. The entire film takes place within Locke's car, though with Hardy at the wheel, it's just compelling enough to avoid the pitfalls of the "one location" trope.

"Locke" is more simmering drama than an all-out thriller, but its stress-inducing performances — half-carried by Olivia Colman, Andrew Scott, and Tom Holland's stellar work — turn this late-night drive into a must-watch.


What can be said about Dan Gilroy's stomach-churning neo-noir that hasn't been already? The 2014 film boasts some of Jake Gyllenhaal's best work, and its nihilistic commentary on our media-obsessed, news-binging culture is one that's nearly impossible to shake, even all these years later.

Gyllenhaal took the term "hunger" to new heights with his portrayal of Lou Bloom, a scrappy ambulance chaser who sells increasingly bleak crime scene footage to news stations for fast cash. His perversion of the American Dream and his desperation for success completely override his conscience, putting his newly-hired intern (Riz Ahmed, in top puppy dog form) and his news station contact (Rene Russo) at considerable risk.

Gyllenhaal brings elements of Lou to his fast-talking career criminal in "Ambulance," but fans should definitely check out "Nightcrawler" for the real deal.

Pain & Gain

A lot of people (myself included) forget that Michael Bay, while a master of action, also deals proficiently in physical comedy. Some of the best parts of "Ambulance" bring on fits of laughter where you least expect it, but that sardonic streak can be found in a lot of Bay's best films. That said, his violent slapstick humor definitely reached its zenith in "Pain & Gain," a film that's since become a quintessential display of the director at his best ... and his worst.

"Pain & Gain" stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as bodybuilders who kidnap and extort a wealthy businessman (Tony Shalhoub) for all his assets. Of course, this plan ultimately implodes — spectacularly, too — but the only thing more shocking than all the violence that transpires is the fact that all of it actually happened. "Pain & Gain" is based loosely on the real-life exploits of the Sun Gym Gang, which were detailed by the Miami New Times in 1999.

Hilariously, Bay never lets you forget this fact: he interrupts the film's wildest moments with perfectly-timed freeze frames and "REMEMBER: THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENED!" title cards. The whole affair is absolutely absurd, but in some ironic way, it's exactly the kind of film that keeps the heist genre fresh.


Max (Jamie Foxx) is arguably one of the best cab drivers in Los Angeles. He's sure exactly how long it'll take to reach Point B from Point A, but feigns humility every time he's proven right.

Vincent (Tom Cruise), his latest fare, is quick to call him out on this, and so much more. In a way, he's the archetypal manifestation of the success that constantly eludes Max. He's efficient, put together, and decisive — even passionate. He shows Max what it means to be fully present in life. He even encourages him to stand up to his exploitative boss. Their growing bond is a surprising highlight of the film, one soured only by the fact that Vincent is A: killing people, and B: holding Max hostage as he does it.

"Collateral" is at once a beautifully-bleak study of a crime-ridden city, and of two men with vastly disparate outlooks. Cruise's silver-haired contract killer pairs perfectly with Foxx's cornered L.A. cabbie, and it's absolutely fascinating to see how one influences the other. For fans of the push and pull between Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II in "Ambulance," you can't go wrong with any film by Michael Mann, least of all "Collateral."


The early aughts were a beautiful time for "So Bad, It's Good" cinema. Directors like Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich helped redefine what a blockbuster could look like (pyrotechnics are key), and suspense lived and breathed on cell reception. A lot of films capitalized on this conceit to ramp up the drama — even "Collateral" — but few built an entire film on that premise alone.

Enter "Cellular," a 2004 suspense thriller starring Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, and Jason Statham. Basinger is a biology teacher whose husband gets caught up in some shady dealings. In order to draw out the husband, a group of baddies — lead by Jason Statham, obviously — break into Basinger's house, shattering her landline to prevent her from calling for help. Pretty standard stuff.

Basinger manages to reconstruct the phone enough to dial a random number. Who does she call? Chris Evans, of course. Evans, though years removed from either of his career-defining comic book roles, reluctantly leaps to the rescue. Armed with only his Nokia flip phone, he battles gun-toting henchmen, cross-connecting cell lines, and bad reception to rescue his anonymous caller — as well as her son, whose name is literally Ricky Martin. If that doesn't sell you on this ridiculous film, I don't know what will.

Triple Frontier

If you love Manic Jake Gyllenhaal, it's likely you also enjoy his mellower predecessor: Sad Ben Affleck. Though the immortal meme has, mercifully, faded from public conversation, Sad Affleck still lives on in the actor's recent films. Traces of Sad Affleck appeared in the ill-fated erotic thriller "Deep Water," but it's hard to top his equally-sad veteran-turned-thief from the Netflix film "Triple Frontier." 

In it, Affleck plays a single dad in desperate need of cash who teams up with his equally-desperate brothers in arms to steal millions from an unsuspecting drug lord in Brazil. Rounding out the cast are Oscar Isaac (it's okay to look at his butt; everyone was), his real-life bestie Pedro Pascal, Charlie Hunnam, and Garrett Hedlund. Their heist takes them on a harsh trek across the Andes, where — like in most dad-core films — their brotherhood is eventually put to the test.

Set It Off

The heist is not always a very welcoming subgenre for women. Films like "Ocean's 8" and "Widows" have recently put competent women at the center of the story, but before, the defining entry was probably F. Gary Gray's "Set It Off." The film is a rare examination of the struggles that plagued lower-class women of color, especially in such an openly misogynistic, racist, and classist society.

"Set It Off," at the risk of gushing, is perfectly paced and perfectly cast. Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise perfectly embody their characters' respective plights; that desperation fuels their decisions makes the film a perfect counterpart to "Ambulance."

A Better Tomorrow

Those on the hunt for more absolutely bonkers action cinema need look no further than pre-millennium John Woo. The Hong Kong director paved the way for blockbuster barons like Bay, but there was a time, long before the zany "Face/Off" and the dove-riddled sequel to "Mission: Impossible," when Woo was known only for the odd wuxia film. It wasn't until the mid-80s that he would reinvent himself — and make Chow Yun-fat a certified mega-star — with "A Better Tomorrow."

Woo is now synonymous with slow-motion, balletic gun sequences, and blood galore, and though "A Better Tomorrow" has this in spades, it's also a touching melodrama about two brothers — one a cop, the other a reformed crook. As the elder, Sung Tse-ho (Ti Lung) struggles to walk the straight and narrow for the first time, his brother Kit (the incredible Leslie Cheung) attempts to implicate him in a case that will take him out of his family's criminal shadow for good.

The film is more about their fractured bond — as well as the brotherhood Ho finds with his friend Mark (Chow) — than its bombastic shoot-outs. Though, to be clear, both are exceptional.

Good Time

Robert Pattinson is unquestionably one of the best actors of his generation, but before "Good Time," he had yet to fully extricate himself from his "Twilight Saga" roots. That said, his portrayal of an opportunistic thief in the Safdie brothers' 2017 crime thriller upended his reputation for the better.

"Good Time" is another gripping story about filial devotion, told from the perspective of a man who is more feral dog than human. Pattinson is Connie (short for Constantine, if you can believe it), who must embark on a harrowing odyssey through New York's underbelly to rescue his brother, Nick, from Rikers Island.

Why is Nick in Rikers? He was arrested after a botched bank robbery, of course. And Connie will do anything to get him out, but as the night goes on, his methods grow increasingly depraved.

"Good Time" skews closer to "Nightcrawler" than "Ambulance," and it's not for the faint of heart by any means — think Gaspar Noé if he made a Batman film. Still, it's a wild ride for anyone looking to turn things up a notch ... or ten.


Pop quiz, hotshot!

How could we possibly forget "Speed," the foremost expert on perpetual-motion chases through the streets of Los Angeles? Like "Ambulance," our beloved Keanu Reeves/Sandra Bullock blockbuster is at least three movies crammed into one high-octane thriller. But unlike Bay's latest, "Speed" handles everything — and I mean everything — with the utmost sobriety. And frankly, I love it when a clearly-kind-of-ridiculous film takes itself this seriously. It makes everything so much more fun.

For anyone unfamiliar with "Speed" for any reason, the film follows LAPD SWAT officer Jack Traven (Keanu Reeves) on a quest to foil an expert bomber (Dennis Hopper). When he eventually does sabotage a heist taking place in a highrise in downtown L.A., our bomber quickly retaliates by rigging a bus with explosives. His bomb will detonate if the bus dips below 50mph, which means that Jack — and Annie (Bullock), who eventually ends up at the wheel — have to find a way to make it out alive without slowing down.