How many outlandish ways can police cars get destroyed in one movie? Ask Michael Bay.
The director has had bad misses (Transformers 2, 3, 4 and 5, Pain and Gain, The Island), middling efforts (Transformers, Bad Boys II, Pearl Harbor, 13 Hours) and somewhat cult guilty pleasures (Bad Boys, Armageddon, The Rock) in equal measures.
This sits somewhere (maybe slightly higher) in Bay’s middle ground – mainly due to the acting pedigree on show – to go with the helmer’s ‘crash, bang, wallop’ style.
You know what you’re getting with a Bay film – and this is as ‘loud’ as any that have come before it.
The movie starts with war veteran Will Sharp (Matrix Resurrections’ Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) discovering his insurance doesn’t cover his wife’s potentially life-saving surgery because it’s classed as experimental. And they have a newborn child in tow.
This leads to him going to his adoptive – life-long bank-robbing criminal masquerading as a car dealer – brother Danny (Oscar-nominee Jake Gyllenhaal), who talks Will into partaking in a $32million bank heist.
Sadly the robbery goes awry – think the classic Heat scene, just not anywhere near as memorable – and a rookie cop (Jackson White) is inadvertently shot by Will as he tussles with Danny as they try and make their escape, as the rest of the crew is caught in a police crossfire.
When an ambulance arrives with highly-trained EMT Cam Thompson (Baby Driver’s Eiza Gonzalez) to collect the injured officer, the brothers hijack it to briefly get out of immediate danger.
But with LAPD Special Investigation Unit Captain Monroe (Garrett Dillahunt) and FBI agent (and former friend of Danny’s) Anson Clark (Keir O’Donnell) quickly in pursuit with every possible resource at their disposal, it soon turns into a game of wits – with Cam trying to keep the ‘bleeding-out’ cop alive during the high-speed chase.
With Bay’s trademark ‘pan and scan’ filmmaking style accompanying his over-the-top car crash action stunts and gang firefights – with a late set-piece involving a Latino cop-hating gang who aid Danny – he could be turning the clock back a quarter of a century to his directorial debut, Bad Boys.
And just like with that film (with Martin Lawrence/Will Smith) there’s a notable chemistry and some acting refinement between Gyllenhaal and Abdul-Mateen II – ably supported by a noteworthy Gonzalez – trying to get a word in edgeways among vehicles flying through the air. And it’s all three of them that makes this. Not the stunts.
As with most Bay flicks, this actioner is unnecessarily bloated by a good twenty minutes as he yet again portrays editing deficiencies – but this is still arguably his best work in fifteen years.
Which shows if he manages to get the Hollywood talent to compliment his zany directing techniques – then his career may just come off life support after many years in a cinematic coma.
ESP Rating: 3/5
Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now
Cast: Yahya Abdul-Mateen Ii, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eiza Gonzalez, Garret Dillahunt, Jackson White, Keir O’donnell & Cedric Sanders
Running Time: 2 Hrs 16 Mins
Director: Michael Bay
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