Taken individually, sunsets, beautiful women, exotic cars and explosions are generally enjoyed by most people. So why is it that when Michael Bay decides to cram all of these things into a blender, toss in some fast edits, light it all on fire and then film it in slo-mo do people start complaining? It’s time to take a deep breath and start appreciating Bay for what he is – a man who makes slick, ridiculously entertaining popcorn movies. And there’s not a damn thing wrong with that. Before you go see Bay's newest blockbuster "Pain & Gain" this weekend, check out ten of our favorite moments on the director's résumé.
10. THE RASTA HEIST – “Bad Boys 2”
Not to make a crass analogy, but a guy who has done as many car chases as Bay is kind of like a guy who watches a lot of porn. Eventually, the normal stuff just doesn’t do it for him anymore. He needs to amp it up. Hence, this sequence early on in "Bad Boys 2," which starts out with a bunch of dreadlocked hoods in ridiculously photogenic cars attempting to jack a briefcase full of drug money and spirals into a car/gun orgy that would be a money moment in anyone else’ s film (for Bay, it’s just a prologue to the real action).
9. READY TO LAUNCH – “Armageddon”
Say what you will about Bay’s maudlin, logic-deprived disaster epic, the man knows how to work a crowd better than the NBA’s most gifted center court dancers. Watching Bruce Willis and his ragtag crew of world-saving freaks and geeks mount up for a possible one-way trip into the great beyond has you wanting to stitch an American flag out of eagle feathers and Budweiser cans while standing shirtless on the hood of a pickup truck.
8. PRISON BANTER – “The Rock”
Who says Bay’s best moments have to involve $250,000 worth of property damage? He can sit back and let quieter moments shine, too. Witness this perfectly balanced scene. It starts with Sean Connery calmly trolling a villainous Ed Harris in front of all his men, then leads to Connery stealthily exacting an escape from an Alcatraz cell, while Nicolas Cage rambles on in the most Nicolas Cage-y way imaginable. It’s funny, cool, moves the plot, and reminds you that only Nic Cage can deliver a line like, “How in the name of ZEUS’S BUTTHOLE…”
7. STARSCREAM ATTACKS – “Transformers”
Here’s a minor criticism wrapped in a compliment. Bay’s tendency to cut around action sequences like an epileptic often muddles some really inspired, badass moments. Case in point – during the final battle of the first "Transformers" movie, we see flying Decepticon Starscream take out a squadron of fighter jets by shooting them down in “jet” mode and then flipping around the pounding on them in “robot” mode – all at top speed in mid-air. Hey Mike, slow down and linger once in a while, ‘cause this is badass.
6. CARJACKING – “Bad Boys”
If you had to sum up “Michael Bay” in a single sequence, look no further than the opening minutes of "Bad Boys." Cast in the orange glow of the late-day Miami sun, the scene starts off with us riding shotgun as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence banter like an old married couple. They stop at a light, and Smith’s attention is immediately pulled towards a leggy model wearing nearly nothing. As he gawks, two gunmen roll up and try to jack Will’s sweet Porsche. More fast-talking, more macho posturing, and WHAM! The scene ends with the bad guys staring down the barrels of Miami’s finest detectives. Humor, hotties, sunsets, and guns. Michael Bay, everyone.
5. TRUCK PARTS – “The Island”
The car chase is Michael Bay’s signature thing. Like Scorsese using Rolling Stones songs or Steven Spielberg having people look at things. Bay finds a way to get a sphincter-clenching car chase into everything. In his semi-serious sci-fi oddity "The Island," he puts enormous truck parts to use in ways enormous truck parts are never supposed to be used. Cue a lot of slick vehicles ripped in half, and us applauding.
4. HIGH SPEED FIST FIGHT – “Transformers”
Prior to the film’s release, "Transformers" producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura sold us immediately in a single line: “You’re going to see a car chase turn into a fist fight at 100 mph.” True to his producer’s word, Bay once again kicked up the average car chase by having the vehicles transform mid-chase and start duking it out (the Decepticon even hip checks a bus that Bay rigged to split in half in real life – no CGI). This is what you want from a "Transformers" movie, folks.
3. THE ATTACK – “Pearl Harbor”
Yes, we know. Even those who appreciate Bay’s contributions to world cinema have to face up to the fact that "Pearl Harbor" is 90 percent not-so-good. But oh, that other 10 percent - specifically, the actual Japanese assault on the titular Hawaiian port. For a few minutes, you forget all about Ben Affleck playing Army and witness an absolutely stunning sequence of hell completely breaking loose. Bay even gives you a bomb’s eye view of the carnage. It's just too bad the attack couldn’t have been two hours long.
2. LAB BOMB – “The Rock”
"The Rock" may very well be Bay’s most accomplished movie, as witnessed by the fact that it appears twice on this list and we haven’t even mentioned the Lamborghini vs. Hummer car chase through San Francisco. No, "The Rock" surprises with its seemingly more relaxed moments – like Nicolas Cage’s chemical weapons expert joking around with his lab techs while they examine a suspicious package. All of a sudden, a baby doll starts spouting gas and the scene becomes an unbearably tense race against the clock. It’s pulse-check time, for sure, and this is only the movie’s opening few minutes.
1. “DO IT TO ME” – Lionel Richie
Finally, like a lot of fledging directors, Bay started out making music videos. And, man, did he ever Michael Bay them to within an inch of their lives. Witness this little early '90s gem. Who else could hear a tepid Lionel Richie ballad and think to himself, “This song needs models in lingerie sprawling on poorly-lit beds?" The ladies' D-cups get more facetime than Lionel in this thing – which is exactly what you’d expect when the feather-haired auteur is calling the shots.