“We’re not the bad guys, we’re just the guys trying to get home!” This line, spoken by Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Danny Sharp, in the trailer for the movie Ambulance (April 8) does more than just relate the plot of director Michael Bay’s next action thriller: it also gives viewers hope that the movie will tell a relatable — if extremely heightened — story about the tough choices everyday Angelenos must make in order to survive in one of the United States’ wealthiest cities.
Deep in debt, Danny and his brother, Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), attempt to rob a bank. The heist goes sideways, and the Sharps are forced to make their escape in an ambulance transporting a Los Angeles police officer who had been shot. Whether by design or serendipity, they commandeer an ambulance with an onboard paramedic, Cam Thompson (Eiza González), who is then charged with keeping the wounded officer, Zach (Jackson White), alive. The brothers may rob banks and take hostages, but they’d never stoop so low to be “cop killers.”
The trailer also highlights Garret Dillahunt as police captain Monroe. Captain Monroe finds himself in the unenviable position of maintaining the safety of an officer who has sustained life-threatening injuries and is being held hostage in an ambulance. Captain Monroe is hesitant to escalate the situation by simply running the ambulance off the road or shooting the Sharp brothers because doing so would surely spell the end for the “brother cop” on board. Regardless of the danger doing so might bring to the city or the hostage paramedic, Monroe believes this brother cop must be protected at all costs. As these scenes suggest, Ambulance is a story about people being forced into morally compromising positions. But above all else, it is a perfect example of “copaganda.”