Fresh-faced rookie Tye Sheridan is led through a world of medical grimness by a grizzled Penn in a tale full of lifeless cliche
There are some strident cliches alongside redundant self-harming machismo in this sub-Schraderesque movie about New York paramedics, directed by Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire and adapted from the novel by Shannon Burke. Sirens screaming and faces emoting, they battle through another dark-night-of-the-soul as they deal with gang shootings, domestic assaults, homeless people dying and crack addicts giving birth in hovels. They are often assigned the futile chore of attending to corpses discovered in decaying buildings, surrounded by black flies – but aren’t all the other patients just corpses in waiting? And so the black flies of horror start buzzing into their brains.
Tye Sheridan co-stars as Ollie, the standard-issue Hollywood rookie, a fresh-faced young ambulance guy from Colorado (of all the poignantly innocent places) paired in time-honoured style with a grizzled old-timer. This is the seen-it-all Gene Rutkovsky, appropriately nicknamed “Rut”, a veteran of a million horrors, including 9/11, played by Sean Penn. Fights break out among the guys back at the station house and Mike Tyson has a cameo as the grouchy chief who has to keep everyone in line.