On one hand, you had the dynamic Danny Sharp in Michael Bay’s Ambulance, but on the other hand was his brother Will Sharp, who had his own story. Without the yin-yang of the two characters, the film wouldn’t be the least bit emotionally engaging. If Danny was like a volatile robber with a streak of childlike enthusiasm, Will was a family man with a strong sense of ethical boundaries. He was willing to cross them for his family, but it had its limits. The performance by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is sincere. He isn’t as good as Gyllenhaal, but considering he has been around for just about five years in the industry as compared to Gyllenhaal, who has mastered his craft over 25 years, Yahya manages to go toe-to-toe with him, trying to make every scene work. Let’s take a closer look at his character.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II As Will Sharp
Will was in the military and has served his country honorably, yet when it comes to receiving help, the bureaucracy of the country fails him. His wife was in need of surgery. He hoped to get the money required through government schemes but ended up getting delayed indefinitely. Apart from an ill wife, he had an infant to care for, and he was desperate for money. Will bends his moral code a little when he needs to, and the first instance of it is when he lies to his wife about the insurance money that would take care of the medical bills. There was no such money on the cards. Now that he had lied, he had to follow through with it. Lying about a job interview, he gets away from his wife and kid on his way to procure the amount required for the surgery.
Will reaches out to his brother, Danny. They had both been subjected to that same old jibe since childhood: “You don’t look like you’re brothers.” Will was a person of color, and Danny was a Caucasian. Actually, Danny’s father had adopted Will and raised the two as his sons. Will and Danny were as close as real brothers. One could do anything for the other, which is why when all else fails, Will shows up at Danny’s door to ask for the money. Why didn’t he come to him before? The answer lies in the fact that Danny’s earnings were not, strictly speaking, legal. He was involved in criminal activities, which is why Will was hesitant. They had gone their separate ways while growing up: Will in the military, and Danny following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a criminal.
Danny didn’t act like a hard-boiled criminal; he enjoyed his life, but that didn’t lure Will into dropping his ideals and becoming a criminal himself. Yet here he was, at Danny’s place, asking for financial support. Danny could give it, except he said he, too, was in financial trouble. Danny gave Will an offer: to help Danny and himself get the much-needed cash. Danny had a big score on the cards, and the planning was complete. His crew was short of one man, and with the clock ticking, Will had to decide whether or not to join Danny’s crew. In all fairness, he had no option but to assist Danny in his heist. It was a ‘bank job,’ all planned by the mastermind Danny himself. Nobody was supposed to get hurt, but Will’s luck ensured he was put to the test for every cent of the money coming his way.
An LAPD officer named Zach checks into the bank right when the robbery is ongoing. When he realizes that Danny is holding the employees hostage, he and Danny get into a scuffle. The whole cavalry is called in, ranging from the LAPD, The Special Investigations Sections, and the FBI, and starts a pursuit to catch the robbers after Zach is shot. It was not the volatile Danny who shot him but the disciplined Will who did. It was between Zach and Danny, and Brother Will decided to save Danny. A paramedic ambulance somehow gets through to save Zach, and Danny and Will take this opportunity to escape in the van, taking Zach and Cam, the EMT, hostage.
Danny persuades Will to drive while he takes care of business in the back. Will couldn’t believe that the day would bring him such a series of catastrophic events, and the worst part was that the day wasn’t over yet. Given his military experience, he could control his nerves, but there was no way he was hardwired for criminal activities. He just wasn’t cut from the same cloth that Danny was. Danny could find some fun and relaxation in the middle of the chase, but Will could not. He had his family on his mind. The bank had 32 million dollars, and they escaped with half of that. Eight million of them were to be given to Papi, another gangster, for getting the FBI off their backs.
Danny couldn’t care less about the money at this point. He just wanted a small amount for his wife’s surgery. He had no desire to become a millionaire overnight. Danny was getting out of control with his dealings, and his no-holds-barred approach could end it all for Will. Will didn’t want anyone’s blood on his hand. The same couldn’t be said about Danny. To him, Zach and Cam were just a means to an end. Cam was keeping Zach alive, and Zach was of great value, as the cops couldn’t just shoot at the ambulance with the cop inside. Danny helped as much as possible to keep Zach alive, not out of fear but because despite all his faults, he was still a man bound by a strong ethical code, the strength of which is revealed only near the end.
When Papi asks Danny to leave Cam and Zach behind, it is Will who opposes the deal being made. He even goes against Danny, who was on board with leaving the wounded cop behind. Danny shoots down Papi’s men, helping both brothers escape in the ambulance. In the end, when Danny becomes completely unhinged, Will has to shoot him down. Cam’s life was on the line, and he had promised to get her out of the situation alive. She even accidentally shot Will, and yet he understood what terror and a pulsating heart can do to a person. She wanted to shoot Danny but accidentally shot Will, and yet when it came to choosing her over Danny, Will didn’t hesitate. Danny was a criminal, and Cam was innocent, and no matter how much he loved him as a brother, an innocent life outweighed that bond for Will. This was his ultimate test. In real life, there aren’t many instances of poetic rewards being given for virtuous behavior, but cinema is full of such endings.
Cam, whose life was saved by Will, ended up putting a huge wad of cash in Will’s baby’s stroller. She had managed to take it from the ambulance. It was enough for his wife’s surgery. Danny ends up dead, and Will is shot. They both were involved in the robbery, yet Will lived, probably because he understood the difference between a desperate measure and a hardcore criminal path. His heart knew that if Zach, who was shot by him, died, he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself for it. He couldn’t go through that again and let something happen to Cam. She, too, repaid him for his act and kept her promise of delivering the money to the wife, bringing one hell of a day to an end.