Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

dir Michael Bay
scr Chris Fedak
prd Michael Bay, Bradley J Fischer, Ian Bryce, William Sherak, James Vanderbilt
with Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, Keir O'Donnell, Jackson White, Cedric Sanders, Olivia Stambouliah, A Martinez, Moses Ingram, Colin Woodell, Devan Long
release UK 25.Mar.22,
US 8.Apr.22
22/US Universal 2h16

gonzalez dillahunt odonnell

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Michael Bay deploys his usual bombast in this outrageously absurd action thriller, from catastrophic car crashes to an over-use of whooshing drone shots. With its sloppy continuity, it also looks like it was shot and then re-edited into a completely different movie. But the propulsive pace and shameless heartstring-tugging make it very entertaining. And a terrific cast goes for broke, determined to steal each scene from everyone else.
Struggling to get insurance to cover mounting medical bills, war veteran Will (Abdul-Mateen) doesn't tell his wife Amy (Ingram) that he's turning to his sketchy brother Danny (Gyllenhaal) for help. Sure enough, Danny ropes him into joining his crew for a $32 million bank robbery in downtown Los Angeles. Everything goes wrong on cue, so Will and Danny hijack an ambulance in which paramedic Cam (Gonzalez) is desperately trying to save the life of cop Zach (White). Meanwhile, police captain Monroe (Dillahunt), FBI agent Clark (O'Donnell) and Zach's partner Mark (Sanders) try to catch them.
Literally throwing everything at the cameras, Bay creates a film that rarely pauses for breath over two rather long hours. It's a relentless series of chase sequences involving massive gunfights, vehicular carnage and of course enormous explosions. The messy plot never quite makes sense, because Will and Danny ignore several escape routes along the way, such as ditching this painfully obvious ambulance. But each actor adds quirks that make scenes ripple with wit and emotion.

Gyllenhaal is the chief scenery-chomper here, merrily tossing around hilarious one-liners while barking gruffly at everyone. It's a tightly wound performance that's oddly endearing, considering Danny's recklessly criminal proclivities. The superb Abdul-Mateen softens Danny's edges as his loyal little brother. Will's journey is much more engaging, mainly because his back-story is so carefully constructed to elicit our sympathy. Gonzalez is terrific as the feisty, smart Cam, who has her own soapy history. And Dillahunt leads the supporting cast of hilariously eccentric obsessives.

As usual, Bay ignores much of the subtlety that either screenwriter Fedak or the actors try to inject into the scenes. He barrels full-speed through the plot contrivances and coincidences, including at one overused twist lifted directly from The Italian Job. But it's sleek and super-cool moviemaking. It's also violently nasty, and this kind of fast and furious hyper-masculinity is always problematic. Thankfully, a sense of absurdity makes it rather good fun to watch things like a sibling fistfight or major surgery at 70 miles per hour.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 6.Apr.22

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© 2022 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall