Jake Gyllenhaal Came Up With The 'Sailing' Duet In Ambulance

Michael Bay's film "Ambulance," in theaters today, is about a pair of brother bank robbers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) who have to hijack the eponymous vehicle after their heist goes awry. With a comatose cop slowly bleeding out in the back, and the city's best paramedic (Eiza González) looking for a way to escape, the ambulance races throughout Los Angeles trying to shake the police escort on their tail. The Abdul-Mateen character is the level-headed one, looking for a practical way out of a situation clearly out of his hands, González is the moral center encouraging her captors to give up, and Gyllenhaal is the wildcard who hangs out of the ambulance door to fire machine guns at helicopters. 

"Ambulance" is incoherent and crazy in the tradition of Bay's best (and worst) works. 

In one of "Ambulance's" more notably kooky scenes, the Gyllenhaal character, in order to calm his nerves, listens to one of his favorite songs on a pair of earbuds. Not to be left out, his brother grabs one of the earbuds and they listen together. The song they hear is Christopher Cross' "Sailing," from the artist's first album, released in 1979. "Sailing" is an especially (and deliberately) incongruent song for a wild action flick like "Ambulance," as Cross is a centerpiece artist in the genre of gentle, soft, yacht rock. It's a funny moment when tension is released.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Eiza González talked about what she needed to do to prepare for her role (she rented an old ambulance to get used to the kind of space her character regularly inhabits), and intense elements of her character's backstory (her character, Cam, dropped out of med school due to addiction). She also talked about that bonkers moment when Christopher Cross invaded the movie.

It was Jake's idea

González admits that while on set, it was all business for the actors, and she can only reflect on her co-stars' characters now that she can interact with them on press tours: 

"[N]ow that we've been on this press tour together, it's nice to see completely different sides of them. And it's not that we were method or anything. It's just that every single time we were put together on set, it was go time. It was performance time. So it allowed for a very different dynamic."

As for "Sailing," it turns out her involvement was a matter of clever editing:

"It's such a good moment, isn't it? ... It's funny because it was movie magic. I shot that without them because I wasn't there on the same day, but it works so well. I like that I played it with a poker face; I didn't go big with it. But I loved that Jake played so much with improv. He's such a talented actor. He understands the assignment. He really knew what the role was, and he really wanted to have fun. He brought the levity that was needed, and he came up with the idea of singing 'Sailing.' He came up with a lot of things that brought levity to this movie, and if those things weren't there, the movie would've been too heavy. That's why it's so good to work with professional and experienced actors like Jake.

Gyllenhaal certainly functions as the villain in "Ambulance," but he is appealing and funny as well. González, Abdul-Mateen, and Gyllenhaal create a watchable trio of characters who manage to emerge from the action chaos as complete characters. 

"Ambulance" is currently playing in theaters.