Nobody makes a movie quite like Michael Bay. You’ll probably never hear his name mentioned at the Academy Awards or even the Golden Globes, but if this world based power on the number of MTV Movie Award nominations a man receives for Best Action Sequence in his lifetime, we’d all be kneeling before Bay. However, Bay doesn’t make his blockbuster action films to impress the people who vote on dumb golden statues that don’t even have a set of hot fake breasts of them. He makes them for the most important reason that any man ever decides to blow sh*t up in a movie – for giant trucks filled with cash.
Bay has done pretty well at making a ton of money, too, as all but one of the films that he has directed (Pain and Gain) has grossed nine figures at the box office worldwide. All that money means that people have loved watching him blow stuff up, so for his 50th birthday today, I thought we could honor Hollywood’s master of macho mayhem, the man who discovers hot, young starlets by making them wash his Ferraris (allegedly), with this very explosive ranking of some of his most absurd action moments.
10) Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – “Mean robots suck!”
The only thing that could have made Skids and Mudflap, Bay’s jive-talking minstrel-bots, any dumber than they already were was if they transformed their little robot hands into handguns and turned them sideways. Still, as dumb as these characters were and for all of the backlash that Bay received for their existence, it simply would have been very anti-Bay to take them out of the film. He’s basically like the action movie director version of Skip Bayless. The things he does will make people angry and confused, but he keeps doing it because his audience eats it up.
9) Armageddon – “It happened before… it will happen again… it’s just a question of when.”
The opening of Armageddon is perfect for a Bay film because he’s like the designer of a roller coaster, and he’s telling us right away not to throw up because it will fly right back into our faces. He basically wants us to believe that while we’re in those dirty theater seats, the world around us is actually in danger, and the only people who can save us are Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. Of course, they have to get over their differences about Liv Tyler first, but… hey. Did you know that Armageddon had NINE writers? That might be the most ridiculous thing about this Razzie nominee.
8) Pearl Harbor – “Them ain’t Navy planes!”
This specific action sequence won an MTV Movie Award, which is troubling considering the average MTV viewers in 2001 probably thought the actual Blitz went down exactly as Bay presented it, complete with the guy peeling potatoes saying, “Son of a…” However, instead of worrying about historical inaccuracies, I’ll refer to this excerpt from the obituary of Kenneth M. Taylor, the heroic and highly-decorated Army Air Forces pilot who was the basis for Ben Affleck’s character:
In the 2001 movie “Pearl Harbor,” actor Ben Affleck played a character based on Gen. Taylor, although he was not consulted and considered the film “a piece of trash . . . over-sensationalized and distorted,” according to his son.
So, was he not really napping in a car with his bros when all hell broke loose? I’ll take that as a no.
7) Transformers – “Beep boop bop… SCREEEEEEECH… growl beep boop.”
Again, Bay sees reality through a nuclear-powered kaleidoscope compared to the rest of us. Two giant robot monsters battle across a busy highway, and Bay thinks a soccer mom is going to stare at it with her jaw on the floor, while a little kid shouts, “Cool, mom!” No way, Jose. That minivan would flood with feces as people were driving their cars in any direction away from those metal beasts, but that’s why Bay is so great at what he does. He’s cluelessly detached from real human emotions.
6) The Rock – “I don’t want any dings, dents, or scratches, or I’ll have your ass.”
Bay is less of a filmmaker than he is that kid in your elementary school who stole his dad’s cigarette lighter and tried to set everything on fire. Watch old movies with awesome chase scenes, and you’ll always notice that the cars being destroyed are far more modest in style and price. When Bay creates a car chase scene, though, he says, “F*ck it, bring me a Hummer, and paint all of the crappy cars with peace signs, and chase it all with a Ferrari!” He then laughs and lights a cigar with a $100 bill.
*He also has a character who hasn’t driven a car in decades get behind the wheel, because Mike Bay ain’t got time for logic!
5) Transformers: Dark of the Moon – “Snipers… take out their eyes.”
“Oh, is that all we needed to do? Shoot the robots in their eyes? I wish we’d thought of that a whole movie ago so we could have avoided some of this chaos and destruction. Oh, well. Lock and load. We have alien robot eyes to shoot out so we can win this war and prepare for the next one.”
4) Bad Boys – “You forgot your boarding pass!”
One of the most entertaining things that Bay does – and in this case, it’s intentional – is when he blows something up and a bad guy goes flying into the air. In his first film, Bay did it better than he ever would again, as this sequence was perfect. The idiot bad guy hesitates and growls long enough to let Martin Lawrence get into position, reload, assess the situation and reconsider his target, deliver his hilariously awful one-liner, and shoot the barrels of ether to make the plane full of money explode. It’s at that point that the bad guy’s burning corpse flies through the air like the Human Torch. It’s f*cking brilliant.
3) Bad Boys II – “Blue power, mother f*ckers!”
Controversial statement time: Bad Boys II is way better than Bad Boys, at least in terms of how much Michael Bay is sprayed all over it. First of all, the Rasta house shootout is good enough to be its own action movie finale, and the attack on Tapia’s compound features senseless explosions, gunfire galore and more bodies flying through the air than ever before. But I love the Klan meeting raid. It’s almost as if Bay included it so one day, perhaps when he created Skids and Mudflap, he could say, “I’m not racist. I made a movie where black men blew up the Klan!” He’d then make an explosion sound for emphasis because I assume he does that in all conversations.
(It’s worth noting that my favorite part of Bad Boys II, as I’ve mentioned before, is poor Reggie.)
2) The Island – “Black Wasp, take out the truck!”
I love The Island. It was such a huge, ambitious idea for a film, and Bay actually executed it pretty well, which makes it all the more hilarious that it bombed. The acting wasn’t nearly as hokey as we’d come to expect from his films, at least outside of the cloning facility. If you can ignore the ridiculousness of the ending (where the hell are all those clones running to?), it’s a pretty great action film. It almost makes you wonder why Bay never tried to be a little more daring and original, instead of settling for a career of producing reboots and directing Transformers robot porn. Oh, wait. The answer to that is money. A sh*tload of money.
1) Meatloaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)”
Not a single Michael Bay film holds a candle to his first and biggest masterpiece to date. Yes, he also cut his teeth on the Vanilla Ice music video for “I Love You,” and he really made a name for himself with Playboy’s Miss September 1990 Kerri Kendall’s video centerfold, but the music video for Meatloaf’s 1993 No. 1 single took the medium to new heights. Without Bay, millions of people would have never speculated wildly what the meaning of the word “that” was. In this case, I think “that” meant star in a music video not directed by Michael f*cking Bay.