Film , Interviews

Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jake Gyllenhaal And Eiza Gonzalez On Bringing The Tension In Michael Bay's 'Ambulance'

Universal's new action-packed movie, Ambulance, brings intensity to the screen minute by minute as we follow Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul Mateen II, and Eisa Gonzalez through the streets of Los Angeles after a money heist plan goes wrong.

The highly-charged film follows adopted brothers, Danny (Gyllenhaal) and Will (Abdul Mateen II), as well as an EMT that crosses paths with them, Cam (Gonzalez). It explores the complex relationship between the two brothers as they try to escape law enforcement.

With Will being an honored veteran who chose the family life, he has no other choice but to turn to his brother Danny, who shadows their late father's bank robbery legacy, for assistance.

Unable to afford his wife's medical bills, Will and Danny steal $32 million from an LA bank. However, the brothers' escape plan is thrown into disarray when an unexpected cop gets shot.

Working as the top EMT, Cam finds herself in the center of Will and Danny's mayhem when they highjack her and the ambulance as a part of the get-away plan.

Shadow and Act spoke with director Michael Bay, as well as Gyllenhaal, Abdul-Mateen II and Gonzalez about the fast-moving feature film.

Abdul-Mateen and Gyllenhaal spoke to how both brothers overextended themselves and risked their own lives for money.

Danny is a complex character, battling between being the bad guy and wanting to be good.

“I think that what was most interesting to me about Danny was that he started off in a place of growing up with bank robbers and growing up in that life, and that was his job,” explained Gyllenhaal. “And then, the love for his brother brought him into a scenario that ended up turning out badly with the heist. Over the course of the heist, he knows that the only way for him to continue [and] the only way to help his brother really, in the end, is for him to edge over into the idea of making everybody believe he’s the one who’s not good. And so as he does that and he then pushes his brother over the other side, And then I think in the end, I think that’s really what the movie is about and that’s why I really liked him, because the intentions [were] always about, even when it may not seem like it in certain actions, loving his brother.” 

Bay wanted the movie to showcase "the study of tension" as most of the scenes were tight shots amping up the viewer's jitters as they watched the three characters risk it all. 

On how this movie stands apart from his other films, Bay said, “I called Donna Langley, who’s President of the Universal Pictures here, and I said, ‘I’ve done enough action to last me a lifetime.’ And this is a movie about the study of tension because the movie gets big, [it has]all the LAPD and great LA shots. But I was interested in all the tension with the actors stuck inside an ambulance, and it was very intimate. The movie is intense, and it just doesn’t let up. And I’m the type of director that I don’t have a director chair. I don’t have a trailer. I’m holding a camera, I’m right there with the actors, And it was a fun experience.’

Eisa Gonzalez, who plays Cam, mentioned the up-close frames were something she had to adjust to when getting into character.

“I think that ultimately at one point, you have to get accustomed to the fact that he has a camera in your face and you’re sort of having to perform, but also disconnect with the fact that you are on an ongoing ambulance, on traffic and just blasting a million miles per hour,” she said. “And it was just quite challenging. I think that space and being able to have a sense of space as an actor is something that is very comforting sometimes. And then when that’s completely taken away from you, and you really have to address. There are moments [when] you have to sort of disconnect from everyone moving and really get into the performance.”

The coolest touch of the movie was rapper Wale playing Gyllenhaal's witty and immature lackey.

On having him be a part of it, Bay told us, “It was great. Wale, his audition was great. I’ve worked with a lot of people that have never been in front of the camera, so he has swagger and whatnot, but he got nervous, and he said, ‘Oh man.’ But I can be in a tense. I’m [pushing] him in a way to get him to be better. I could be tough because I know what I want, and I finally got what I want. He was getting a little frustrated in the beginning, and then the second day was easier. The third day was easier, and he was just great, and he’s great in the movie. The audience will love it.”

Ambulance is in theaters now. Watch the full interview above.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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