People tend to hate Michael Bay for what he represents, and the fact that he represents it so unrepentantly. His is a cinema of crass excess – a perma-pubescent who doesn’t know how to love anything without fetishizing it, he’s the Yasujiro Ozu of “vulgar auteurism” (don’t hurt yourself trying to unpack that one).
A graduate of Wesleyan University who got his start shooting commercials for the likes of Coca-Cola, Bay inserted himself into the movie business when he teamed up with Jerry Bruckheimer for “Bad Boys.” Yes, “Bad Boys” was his FIRST. FILM. That’s like showing up for your driver’s license test in a fighter jet. From there, Bay blew up, eager to bring his particularly destructive brand of cinema anywhere that could sustain an explosion. If you can name it, Bay can nuke it.
Bay’s is an unapologetic persona, which makes it that much stranger and unappreciated that yesterday he apologized for “Armageddon,” which we’ll soon learn is hardly the worst film that he’s ever made. He’s also one of the few iconic auteurs of the last 20 years whose entire body of work has probably been seen by huge swaths of the American public – simply by virtue of going to the biggest movies in town, even casual moviegoers might unknowingly be familiar with the complete output of Michael Bay.
With that in mind, and with his latest (and perhaps smallest) film “Pain & Gain” opening on Friday, hopefully you’ll all be able to form your own opinions on our rundown of Michael Bay’s directorial career, ranked from worst to best.