Most critics, especially the highbrow ones, hate him. Popcorn audiences, judging by the large box office grosses of his blockbuster films, love his work. And the man himself, based on his no-fucks-given attitude in interviews and the mystical playboy aura that wafts from him, wouldn't have it any other way.
Yes, we're talking about Michael Bay, one of the most divisive filmmakers to ever scream, "Action!" And boy does he love everything about that word. Since 1995, the former music video helmer and Victoria's Secret commercial shotcaller has kept his brand of explosive cinema extremely one-note. In lieu of well-written scripts and layered characters, Bay's movies—from the Bad Boys flicks to Pearl Harbor and the Transformers franchise—stick to what the man knows: endless destruction, often incoherent action, stuff blowing up, glossy visual palettes, and actresses acting sexily instead of, well, actually acting.
Unsurprisingly, film purists loathe everything about his style. Whenever it's time to review a Michael Bay production, critics sharpen their knives, put on the warpaint, and pound away on those keyboards to string vitriol together into seething paragraphs. And, again, Bay doesn't give a what, as evidenced by his latest effort, Pain & Gain (in theaters today), an action-comedy about meathead criminals (played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie) that, had he embraced the material's stripped-down potential, could have been Bay's more intimate response to his haters. The film's budget—a reported $25 million—is peanuts compared to the price tags of his previous ones, and there's not a shapeshifting automobile in sight. But nothing's changed.
True to form, Bay kissed all subtleties goodbye and cranked out a gleefully bombastic and tonally insane romp that's just as knowingly shallow as his older films. Before you seek out Pain & Gain's anti-Mike critiques, though, take an angry trip down memory lane as count down the 25 meanest things said about Michael Bay's movies in reviews.
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Compiled by Matt Barone (@MBarone)