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The Movies Directed By Michael Bay, Ranked

We unleash Bayhem by ranking the films of Hollywood’s showiest auteur.
Michael Bay
By  · Published on December 30th, 2019

5. Transformers (2007)


For all the metallic CGI bump and grind and crunch that has followed in the sequels, there’s something sort of earnest about the effort Bay and co. put together on the first one. It was the ultimate test of a Blockbuster Auteur — could you successfully combine Bayhem with an existing IP like Transformers, the somewhat beloved Hasbro toys from the 80s who had a nice moment with a fun animated film. And it turned out pretty well. Think of it this way: if Michael Bay had not spent the next 10 years of his life making sequels, 2007’s Transformers would be a fascinating highlight in his long and wild career. It’s Michael Bay, the ultimate overgrown teenager behind the camera, making a movie about talking robot cars that is, in fact, for teenagers. In a vacuum, it’s a good time.  (Neil Miller)

4. Armageddon (1998)


The man who made The Rock gifts us with a follow up film about a rock. Possible problems with impossible solutions is the sweet spot that Bay’s disasterpieces enjoy playing in and Armageddon perhaps best exemplifies that ethos. Pitch: with millennium anxiety on the horizon, an asteroid plummets towards Earth and it’s up to an intrepid crew of astronauts and deep sea miners to stop it. How? By detonating a nuclear bomb in the core of the meteor, duh. The film is a big brassy actioner in a way only Bay could produce with some killer performances from perennial Bay-ctors Peter Stormare and the indomitable William Fichtner. Armageddon ain’t high art, and it’s more than happy to be that movie you catch on TNT halfway through in a marathon on a Christmas Day spent with family, but it’s also a visually arresting technical spectacular with an ensemble cast the Steppenwolf would be jealous of and an eternal power ballad from Aerosmith that is stuck in your head right…now. You’re welcome! (Jacob Trussell)

3. Bad Boys (1995)


If the world of 1995 were constituted with a similar landscape of movie blogs and click-chasing publications, every single one of them would’ve been writing op-eds about being blown away by a flashy commercial director’s raw, stylish, bullet-riddled feature debut about two narcotics cops in Miami. It starred two of the biggest TV stars of the moment, Martin Lawrence of Martin and Will Smith, who you may have known at the time as the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In fact, this movie wasn’t just a coming-out party for a filmmaker — Bad Boys hit cineplexes a year before Independence Day and two years before Men in Black. Bad Boys was a coming-out party for Will Smith, perhaps one of the greatest movie stars of the final generation of movie stars. Bad Boys for life. (Neil Miller)

2. Pain & Gain (2013)

Pain And Gain
Paramount Pictures

This movie is hot. It’s big. Every juiced inch of it is pumping with Bayhem, and as hard as it gets, we do so equally. All the nagging problematic tendencies that crop up throughout MBay’s filmography only go to enhance the wretched human behavior on display in this film. The exploits of Daniel Lugo (a never better Mark Wahlberg) and his Sun Gym Gang are horrendous, repugnant, and repulsively funny. You should not have a good time with this one (especially considering the deeply troubling and sad real-life events), but it’s impossible not to fall for its gob-smacking absurdity. As the credits roll, sure, feel free to feel bad — you should — but don’t you dare deny the sway this film has or the grotesque narrative’s perfect alignment with Bay’s POV. (Brad Gullickson)

1. The Rock (1996)

The Rock

This is Bay’s magnum opus. His masterpiece. His Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The movie that made Nic Cage a blockbuster action star and put him alongside a marvelous star-studded cast featuring Sean Connery, Ed Harris, Michael Biehn, and Tony Todd doing what they do best. The plot is simple: terrorists infiltrate Alcatraz and threaten to destroy San Francisco. Cage and Connery must team up and save the day in a mission that puts them on a race against time. Cue the breakneck action and edge-of-your-seat thrills. The Rock is everything you want from a Bay flick, but with this one, the director also showed a surprising amount of restraint compared to his other efforts. The action comes thick and fast, sure, but the film also spends an ample amount of time on establishing some fascinating characters and their motivations. The Rock is a definitive ‘90s action movie, and watching it nowadays just makes me long for an era where Hollywood still made action movies like it. (Kieran Fisher)

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.