Posted on April 7, 2022 at 5:32 pm

Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for intense violence, bloody images and language throughout
Profanity: Very strong language, n-word
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Extended, intense peril and violence, guns, explosions, chases, many characters injured and killed
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: April 8, 2022

Copyright 2022 Paramount
There’s a reason this movie is named after its mode of transportation instead of its characters. The humans in the story have less depth. It might most accurately be named “Michael Bay Movie,” a title that would convey all you need to know, which is that this is a movie about chases and explosions and shoot-outs. It’s a good thing studios do not have to certify that no vehicles were harmed in the making of the movie because the list of destroyed cars would be longer than the screenplay.

In between the chases and explosions and shoot-outs there is a thimble-full of a story. There are two brothers, Danny (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Danny’s family took in Will when they were childhood best friends. As adults, Danny followed his father into the criminal activity and Will went in the other direction, enlisting in the military. But he is struggling in civilian life. His wife needs an expensive operation that is not covered by insurance and they have a young baby. And so he goes to Danny for help.

Danny says the only way he can help is by bringing Will along on a bank robbery that is happening immediately. With no time to think, no other options for saving his wife, and Danny’s assurances that everything was under control, he agrees.

Everything was not under control. Everything goes very badly, and the only members of the bank robbery gang to survive are Danny and Will. A young police officer who came into the bank not because anything looked suspicious but to ask a pretty teller on a date, tries to capture them and Will shoots him. An ambulance arrives with an EMT named Cam (Eiza González, on the other side from her bank robber role in “Baby Driver”). Danny and Will see that an ambulance with an injured can get through the police dragnet, so they hijack it, taking Cam and Keith, the badly injured police officer, hostage.

And then, well, a lot of chases and explosions and shoot-outs. Somewhere in there are tiny moments of character, mostly not very interesting (the head cop has a very big dog, Cam has a reputation for being chilly and we find out why. the FBI man in charge (Keir O’Donnell) is younger than the LAPD guy in charge (Garret Dillahunt) so there are some generational and turf-y struggles. Olivia Stambouliah makes an impression as the LAPD surveillance expert and González manages to creat a real character amidst the mayhem. Gyllenhaal, stuck with a character whose choices and responses are increasingly difficult to parse, does get in a few good moments. I particularly like his reaction after a character sprays him with a fire extinguisher, only upset about his sweater. “It’s CASHMERE!”

The action set-pieces are staged with relish for the crashes and destruction but not the kind of style and energy we get in the “Fast and Furious” franchise. Those scenes are occasionally punctuated with Bay’s odd trademark focus on random objects. Like the police chief’s gigantic dog, they add less to the pacing and tone than Bay appears to think. Or maybe we’re just too exhausted to care.

Parents should know that this film has constant peril and action violence with many characters injured and killed and some very graphic and disturbing images. Characters use strong language and commit crimes.

Family discussion: Why did Cam go to see Lindsay? Why didn’t Keith tell the truth?

If you like this, try: “16 Blocks,” “Copshop,” and both version of “Fort Apache the Bronx”

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