Michael Bay has become one of the most recognizable directors in action, and his calling card is a tendency toward the explosive. All of his big-scale action films include multiple huge, building-destroying explosions, to the extent that fans not only want Bay to go big, but expect him to. And with the fifth installment of Transformers in pre-production and his film about the seige of the American embassy in Libya, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, coming out on January 15, it only makes sense that a few more of his trademark explosions are in store.
The 50-year-old director is behind some of the biggest, baddest explosions to ever hit the big screen. So, to honor the art that is the Michael Bay explosion, here are 11 Times Michael Bay Blew Stuff Up Real Good.
11 Bad Boys (1995)
Starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, Bad Boys was Bay’s first, large-scale action film, making $141 million worldwide. The film follows two detectives in the narcotics unit (Smith and Lawrence) of the Miami PD who are investigating a case of stolen heroin from a secure police vault. With their jobs on the line, the two find themselves in much more trouble than they bargained for.
When a film’s reviews claim its storyline was overpowered by too many explosions, it’s safe to say it’s a Michael Bay film. The $19 million budget went a long way in the film, securing two up-and-coming actors and a plethora of firepower. The most noteworthy explosion occurs during an air hangar shoot-out, in which Marcus (Lawrence) delivers a fantastically cheesy one-liner before shooting some barrels of ether and sending his perp flying.
“You forgot your boarding pass.”
10 The Rock (1996)
The action adventure film starring Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery follows a rogue group of military men who threaten an attack on San Francisco from Alcatraz prison. An FBI chemist and an ex-con are the only hope, as they must lead a counterattack against Alcatraz.
The film brought in a whopping $335 million worldwide ($134 million domestic) with a $75 million budget. And that budget was certainly put to good use. The best explosion of the film occurs at the end, with Stanley (Cage) on Alcatraz, frantically waving green flares in the air to ward off the jets sent to bomb the island. But the signal comes just a bit too late, as one of the jets already released the bomb, sending Stanley flying into the ocean.
And again, another perfect, pre-explosion line: “May God have mercy on their souls.”
9 Armageddon (1998)
With plenty of explosions to go around, Armageddon stars Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck and Billy Bob Thornton in a story that follows a group of misfits tasked with saving the world from an incoming asteroid set to impact the Earth in just a month. The production budget was an astronomical $140 million, though it paid off, as the film brought in $553 million worldwide.
While there are plenty of explosion scenes to choose from, two in particular stand out. The first of which is when meteors hit Europe, wiping out Paris completely in a large-scale explosion. The second of which involves Harry (Willis) as he sacrifices himself detonating the rock in space, in possibly one of the most melodramatic explosion sequences Bay ever created.
8 Pearl Harbor (2001)
Though critics panned the large-scale, arguably drawn out explosion sequence at the center of the film, Bay didn’t hold back, giving audiences one of the most intense series of explosions he’s ever created. Based on the real-life events on December 7, 1942, bounces between romance and action, and though many believe the attack scene wasn’t nearly as emotionally-charged as it could’ve been, the action was nothing if not explosive.
The attack sequence involving the naval base takes place at the center of the film. A second attack sequence, depicting the US bombing of Japan, is also a notable explosive sequence towards the end of the film. The film’s budget was $140 million, and it brought in over $400 million worldwide. The use of explosives eventually earned the film a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for the movie with the most explosives used.
7 Bad Boys II (2003)
The sequel to the 1995 film brought back leads Smith and Lawrence, who reprised their roles as narcotics detectives Lowrey and Burnett respectively, this time on a case involving the distribution of ecstasy in Florida. The budget for the sequel far exceeded that of the original, coming in at $130 million. Domestically, it grossed a little less than $140 million.
Still, this film was chock full of explosions, including the most expensive detonation in movie history, which involved a $40 million mansion, an upset narcotics dealer and a yellow hummer. The explosion is also arguably one of the most talked about Bay explosions ever.
6 The Island (2005)
Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor star in this sci-fi, adventure film that brought in only $35 million domestically with a $126 million production budget. The film follows two inhabitants of a dystopian society that begin to question their lives as they slowly learn everything they know is a lie.
The Island includes numerous car crash scenes, a couple of which are rumored to have been recycled in the third Transformers film. Regardless, while The Island is considered one of the least successful Bay films, its action-packed sequences are nothing less than one would expect from the director.
5 Transformers (2007)
The $150 million production budget went a long way in this film, especially since it ended up grossing $319 million domestic and $709 million worldwide. The first installment in the franchise stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox as Sam Witwicky and Mikaela Banes respectively, as they’re tasked with saving the world (with the help of the Autobots) from an alien race known as the Decepticons.
And like all Bay films, the first Transformers installment is action-packed, which undoubtedly includes a few explosive sequences, one of the most notable being the Decepticon attack at the military base, which includes multiple explosions and technological terrors.
4 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)
The second Transformers film brings back Fox and LaBeouf, reprising their roles as Witwicky and Banes as the Decepticons are back, and their help is sought out, despite their having moved on in their lives. The production budget for the second installment hit $200 million, and the film grossed over $800 million worldwide.
Bay’s love of explosives really revealed itself in the air strike sequence that took place in the Middle East. Though critics of the film felt the diversion took a bit too long, the resulting action sequence was well worth it, making it arguably one of Bay’s best explosion sequences.
3 Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011)
Though the third installment lost Megan Fox, LaBeouf returned to reprise his role, and replaced Fox with model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley as Carly, hardly a loss. And with a $190 million production budget, the film banked over $1 billion worldwide. For the third film in a franchise, the number was astronomical.
And rightfully so. The third Transformers film included more lengthy, intense and aesthetic detonation sequences than the other two films had in their entirety. Namely, the scene in which Chicago is invaded by Decepticons, including a Driller that takes down skyscrapers with ease. Of course, he’s eventually taken out by another grand scale explosion. Go figure.
2 Pain & Gain (2013)
Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie, Michael Bay really could do no wrong. But the storyline didn’t quite call for explosions, as it follows three bodybuilders that get caught up in an extortion ring and kidnapping gone awry. Still, Bay directed the film, so you can bet that some things were blown up. And with a production budget of $26 million, how can you not?
Though there is only one explosion in the film (shocking, I know), it’s exactly what you’d expect from Bay. It involves a car, fire and three ripped guys walking away as the flames engulf the backdrop. The best part – the Rock cringes at the detonation. Just well done, all around.
1 Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
The fourth installment of the franchise lost LaBeouf as well, replacing him with Mark Wahlberg. While domestically, the film’s box office took a bit of a hit, coming in at $245 million, the film brought in over $1 billion worldwide, so it was hardly a flop. Still, with the increased production budget at $210 million, fans of the franchise couldn’t help but feel a little let down.
Even so, Age of Extinction includes quite a few explosive sequences of its own, staying true to the tone of the Transformers films that preceded it. With Autobots on the move and a human race that wants them gone, one can expect numerous detonations.
Have a favorite Michael Bay explosion scene? Let us know in the comments!