Every Michael Bay Movie, Ranked From Worst To Best (According To IMDb)


From Bad Boys to Ambulance, director Michael Bay has been a big name in the action genre. Bay cut his teeth on music videos, and his entire filmography is imbued with that stylish attitude. His films are all about excess, with big runtimes and dazzling spectacle.

RELATED: Michael Bay’s Best Movies (According To Rotten Tomatoes)

Despite persistently intense criticism, his films can alternate between guilty pleasures and genuine fun for many viewers. But what’s the best Michael Bay movie ever? IMDb may hold the definitive answer.

Updated on April 11th, 2022 by Mark Birrell: The best Michael Bay movies have defied critical panning to become hugely successful films at both the box office and on IMDb, where voters have rated some of the director’s work higher than many may assume. The release of Ambulance adds another entry into the filmmaker’s long list of uncompromising blockbusters and places handsomely in the rankings.

15 Transformers: The Last Knight (2017) – 5.2

Available to stream on Paramount+

Transformers The Last Knight

Michael Bay’s fifth and final Transformers movie was a financial low point for the overall successful series of films, prompting a reboot, Bumblebee, in 2018 that was much more warmly reviewed by both fans and critics.

Though The Last Knight doesn’t deviate massively from Bay’s other–much more successful–Transformers movies, it followed further down the path of the previous entry, Age of Extinction, which emphasized now obligatory-feeling human drama over the actual Transformers themselves.

14 Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) – 5.6

Available to stream on Paramount+

Following the departures of leading stars Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, the Transformers live-action franchise was retooled slightly while still keeping the canon set up in Bay’s earlier films and expanding upon it.

Mark Wahlberg leads the human cast in this fourth live-action outing, helping Age of Extinction become the second billion-dollar hit for the franchise. However, it would mark the beginning of a rapid decline in terms of fan satisfaction, as evidenced by the scores on IMDb.


13 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) – 6.0

Available to stream on Netflix

Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen

Bay’s second live-action Transformers movie was a box office success, securing the series’ long future, but failed to live up to the surprise success of his original. Still, though a number of cast members from the original movie would return several times throughout the following sequels, Revenge of the Fallen was a true encore of the original’s success and got everyone back to take a bow.

On top of this, the movie’s action sequences start out gargantuan and somehow only get bigger and bigger. For some, clearly, this was a little too much, but the film is still looked on with more favor than Bay’s final two Transformers movies.

12 6 Underground (2019) – 6.1

Available to stream on Netflix

6 Underground Cast

Though it was released straight to Netflix, this characteristically explosive Michael Bay movie doesn’t hold back in any respect, incorporating a number of techniques that Bay honed over the course of his Transformers tenure but lending them to a slightly more grounded story. At least, in comparison to the Transformers movies.

RELATED: The Best Movies Like 6 Underground

Ryan Reynolds heads up the robust cast as the creator and leader of a kind of ultraviolent A-Team that plots a coup in a fictional dictatorship. Written by Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, it’s brimming with that much-loved comic book exuberance that many movie fans know Reynolds for.

11 Pearl Harbor (2001) – 6.2

Available to stream on Prime Video

Ben Affleck in Pearl Harbor

Check real-world accuracy at the door for this one. That’s advice that’s applicable to many of Bay’s films, to be sure, but this movie surprisingly avoids a history lesson. Instead, it opts for a sentimental love triangle, evoking the melodrama of postwar American cinema.

The cast is full of small roles with big actors, like Dan Aykroyd, Michael Shannon, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Pearl Harbor also features a remarkable, piano-oriented score by Hans Zimmer. And, as usual, the action is jaw-dropping. Bay’s tendencies function at their highest capacity when he intentionally aims to capture the chaos of battle.

10 Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (2011) – 6.2

Available to stream on Netflix

Optimus Prime in Transformers Dark of the Moon

This gigantic conclusion to the original era of live-action Transformers movies swung for the fences, going for maximum action. Made for 3D, some of the sequences get pretty creative. The practical wingsuit drop was uniquely compelling and even daring.

On top 0f that, there’s a certain charm in watching successful, reputable actors have silly fun in this series. Frances McDormand is great opposite fellow Coen brothers regular John Turturro, and even Leonard Nimoy of Star Trek fame plays the villainous Sentinel Prime. There’s no question that the sound design and visual effects completely delivered for Driller, the giant worm that even Arrakis would envy. Dark of the Moon may not be as big a hit with fans as the original live-action Transformers movie but it was a huge box office success on release and still ranks as one of Michael Bay’s top 10 movies, according to IMDb voters.

9 Pain & Gain (2013) – 6.4

Available to stream on Paramount+

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain

It’s curious to think this film was supposed to be a passion project that Hollywood was suppressing. After all, it bears so many similarities to Bay’s other films. It’s essentially the purest form of testosterone, a buddy comedy with bodybuilders, crime, and debauchery.

The cast is the main highlight of this unconventional dark comedy. The leads are very confident with their comedic chops, which is a necessity for keeping up with Bay’s frenzied style.

8 Ambulance (2022) – 6.5

Based on a Danish film of the same name, Ambulance brings all of the action that Bay is known for but placed, at least in part, into a slightly more intimate setting as two desperate bank robbers attempt to escape the police in a stolen ambulance.

Though it remains to be seen how it will ultimately sit in the rankings of the director’s work, Ambulance has already been rated as one of the best Michael Bay movies by IMDb voters.

7 Bad Boys II (2003) – 6.6

Available to stream on DIRECTV

Martin Lawrence Gabrielle Union and Will Smith in Bad Boys II

This gigantic sequel elaborates on the undeniable chemistry between Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, incorporating bigger and bolder action. The nine-minute Haitian chase is arguably Michael Bay’s best action scene to date.

As is common in what IMDb voters have voted as Michael Bay’s best movies. the story is really driven forward by the comedy. Bad Boys II was ostentatious enough to secure the name as a bonafide franchise and, though Bay would not return for the third installment, its success continues to this day.

6 Armageddon (1998) – 6.7

Available to stream on Tubi

Bruce Willis In Armageddon

Disaster movies don’t come much more over-the-top than Armageddon, in which Bruce Willis’ oil rig boss leads a ragtag group of drillers to blow up an asteroid before it can destroy Earth.

RELATED: The Best Explosions in Michael Bay’s Movies, Ranked

With a huge cast of stars, enormous sets, and even bigger setpieces, this largely space-set adventure actually ends up being one of Bay’s more emotional movies and its sat well with audiences over the years as a result.

5 Bad Boys (1995) – 6.8

Available to stream on DIRECTV

Bad Boys 1995 Martin lawrence Will Smith

For an entire generation, Will Smith will always be known as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. So it was pretty interesting to see him as a foul-mouthed, legitimate tough guy in the mid-90s.

Bad Boys was Bay’s debut film, establishing many of the tropes that he’d consistently revisit, albeit on a relatively smaller budget. As such, it feels tighter, resulting in more of a buddy cop movie than an action extravaganza. In that respect, this is one of the polarizing director’s most accessible films.

4 The Island (2005) – 6.9

Available to rent or purchase on Prime Video

Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are plenty of fun in this exciting story that’s split into two equal halves. The second half is a chase film, which debuted many of the stylistic choices that would be cemented during Bay’s subsequent Transformers movies. But the first half is an intriguing near-future premise, some of the most plausible science-fiction of Bay’s filmography.

It’s a great science-run-amok premise, even featuring some genuine chills. Mauro Fiore’s cinematography is gorgeous and the pulse-pounding score is one of Steve Jablonsky’s most unique and memorable works, setting the stage for a long and fruitful collaboration between the two after the composer made his movie debut with the Bay-produced Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake.

3 Transformers (2007) – 7.1

Available to stream on HBO Max

Transformers 2007 movie michael bay

Though the lower scores of the more recent movies may suggest that Bay’s involvement in the Transformers franchise has always been a point of controversy. Bay was inherently suited for bringing a popular cartoon and toy line to life. More so than the majority of his films, this first installment really understood and appealed to its target demographic.

There’s ample time spent with humans, led by the talented Shia LaBeouf who sells a believable friendship with the memorable Bumblebee, who survives as the live-action franchise’s leading attraction. Steve Jablonsky’s score is rousing in parts, the visual effects are still top-notch and, above all, the film really taps into the inner child within its target audience.

2 13 Hours – 7.3

Available to stream on Paramount+

John Krasinski in 13 Hours

Another war movie, but a much more highly-rated and modern take on the subject than Pearl Harbor13 Hours is an adaptation of the book of the same name by Mitchell Zuckoff, which depicts the experiences of security personnel who defended a CIA compound during the attacks on US government buildings in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Though by this point in his career, Bay’s style had developed into something that a majority of critics have found to be disorientating, the soldiers’ situation innately lends itself to that approach.

John Krasinski is a superb lead, though the whole cast gets its opportunity to shine. The violence is appropriately graphic and gripping, and every cost is felt. There’s a genuine sincerity in Bay’s approach and it’s resonated well with audiences.

1 The Rock (1996) – 7.4

Available to stream on Prime Video

Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage in The Rock

The Rock is a classic action movie through and through and could be described as Die Hard in Alcatraz. The motivation of every character is clear, so none of the action feels manufactured or superfluous, save for one typically excessive car chase perhaps.

The threat is compelling, and a smart way to invite Cage’s everyman along for the ride rather than trying to turn the lovably eccentric star into some kind of tough guy. It’s an unapologetically 90s film but one that has clearly aged well, with IMDb voters ranking it as the best Michael Bay movie ever.

NEXT: 10 Movie Franchises That Michael Bay Could Make Better

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