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'Ambulance' stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza González talk stress of working on Michael Bay's latest actioner

According to Rotten Tomatoes, Ambulance is Michael Bay’s best reviewed movie of his career.

Don’t tell that to Michael Bay, though, the action director and producer world famous for blowing things up real good in movies like Bad Boys (1995), The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998) and the Transformers series (2007-2017).

“Hang on, I don't talk about reviews,” Bay said, cutting us off when we mentioned this to him at a recent press event on the Universal lot (watch above). “I don't talk about reviews. I don't even wanna know. I swear to God. So I’m just gonna cut you off right now.”

Bay did, however, elaborate on why he doesn’t care: “I make movies for audiences and Jerry Bruckheimer, my producer who did my first movie, Bad Boys, and did The Rock and Pearl Harbor. He said, ‘Don't read the good, don’t read the bad.’ You know, I’m making movies for audiences.”

Those audiences have been huge. Bay’s movies have grossed over $7.8 billion at the worldwide box office.

While Bay’s movies typically come with budgets well over $100 million, critics are responding more positively to his $40 million thriller Ambulance (Bay equating the amount to having one arm behind his back), shot mid-pandemic over 39 days around the streets and highways of downtown Los Angeles.

AMBULANCE, from left: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez, 2022. ph: Andrew Cooper / © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection
Ambulance stars, from left: Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Eiza Gonzalez. (Photo: Andrew Cooper / © Universal Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Despite its long running time (2 hours, 16 minutes), Ambulance is drawing praise for its frenetic pace. The film follows a military vet (Yahya Abdul-Mateeen II) desperate to pay for his wife’s medical bills who reluctantly agrees to rob a bank with his bad-news surrogate brother (Jake Gyllenhaal). When the heist goes haywire, they carjack a responding ambulance, its EMT (Eiza González) still inside as she tends to a wounded cop.

And once the action starts, it never really stops — an experience that looks exhausting for its actors, who shot the bulk of the tense story within the claustrophobic confines of an actual ambulance.

“It wasn't exhausting,” Gyllenhaal says. “It was enervating and just bombastic and, well, nuts. In a great way.”

“It was our job to keep the balls in the air, then go home and get a long night of sleep,” Abdul-Mateen agrees.

Gonzalez begs to differ.

“It was really stressful,” she says. “It was like working at a Six Flags [amusement park]. You're getting on this ride on a daily basis. My body took a toll. Like I think my endocrine system just completely got wrecked from the stress … Your body just kicks into fight or flight mode and you can't control it. I hormonally even got so wrecked from the whole thing. So it was really interesting how your body can take such a physical toll in projects like this.”

Ambulance is now in theaters.

—Video produced by Jen Kucsak and edited by Jimmie Rhee

Watch the trailer: