There’s something satisfying about seeing big explosions on screen. This may be because human beings have always been drawn to fire and explosions display the same kind of heat and color in a more dramatic and loud way. Or maybe it has something to do with the fact that we don’t want to be near them in real life, but can safely enjoy them when we see them on screen. This way, explosions have the same appeal as action movies (and it’s no coincidence that action movies often feature lots of explosions).
by Christophe Nolan Coming Oppenheimerrecently gained attention for its dedication to recreating an atomic bomb explosion without CGI. It’s unclear at this point what it will look like on screen, but it’s unlikely to be shown in the same way a typical blockbuster explosion might look. The following 10 films are all slightly lighter affairs that feature satisfying explosions and should delight action fans and those who like to see big things ignite.
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)
The fourth film of the madmax series, road of fury is probably best known for his spectacular car chase sequences. Well, it would be more accurate to say that he is best known for his spectacular car chase sequence, as most of the film is a long, drawn out, and very exciting chase.
In all of these chases and collisions, there are spectacular explosions. Many vehicles caught fire during Mad Max: Fury Road high-octane action sets, with the fiery red explosions against the bright blue sky and the grey/brown vehicles covered in rust. It’s a visual feast for those who are fans of giant fireballs, and one of the reasons why road of fury has a reputation as one of the best large-scale action movies of the last decade.
“The Wages of Fear” (1953)
Always scary from start to finish, The wages of fear is a thriller that has lost none of its impact in the 70 years since its release. It’s relentlessly slow about several men who take on the dangerous job of trucking fragile explosives over rocky terrain, knowing all the time that the slightest collision could see them die a fiery death.
It’s the rare movie where you don’t want to see an explosion, but nonetheless, the stakes have to be established somehow, and so at least an explosion is inevitable. It’s a gritty, visceral, and sweaty movie, and that goes for both the scenes where something blows up and the scenes where you hope nothing will.
“The Naked Gun” (1988)
The naked gun might follow a cop who has to arrest a dangerous criminal, but it’s far from the kind of serious (or semi-serious) action movie you’d expect to find big explosions in. It’s more of a very silly crime/crime movie parody, but it’s still hilarious throughout.
He’s also really dedicated to all of his gags, including an elaborate one that features a series of escalating explosions at the end of a car chase. It all culminates with a missile hitting a fireworks factory, causing a huge amount of destruction, with protagonist Frank Drebin unconvincingly telling passers-by to “Move on” because “There’s nothing to see ”. It might be the most memorable explosion ever featured in a parody movie.
‘The Dark Knight’ (2008)
The black Knight show that Oppenheimer is far from the first time Christopher Nolan has chosen to put a huge explosion on screen. The second film of his Batman The trilogy features the Joker as its main villain, and given that he’s a character who likes to wreak havoc and destruction, he ends up enjoying blowing things up.
The Joker’s love of things going wrong is best demonstrated in the film’s iconic hospital sequence, which sees the Joker blow up an entire hospital while dressed as a nurse. While the rumor about health book improvising when the explosion was delayed is ultimately a myth, Nolan and his team blew up a real building for the explosion seen in the final film, as it had to be destroyed anyway.
“Die Hard” (1988)
Although the consequences of die hard ended up having bigger explosions, it’s hard to top the fiery one that consumes the top of Nakatomi Square near the end of the original. This is a case where quality is more important than quantity, because the best die hard the film is the one with the best explosion.
die hard is a surprisingly low-key action flick for much of its runtime, with a claustrophobic, vulnerable setting, an ordinary hero, and a relatively small cast of antagonists (certainly nothing to do with the tiny army Arnold Schwarzenegger take and beat in Commando, for instance). This makes die hard having an explosive ending that’s all the more satisfying and rewarding, given how it contrasts with the rest of the film.
“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” (1966)
Rightly considered one of the best westerns of all time, The good the bad and the ugly is such a great movie that even those who aren’t fans of the genre will likely enjoy it. Perhaps that’s thanks to the fact that it’s still exciting, funny, and features a good old-fashioned treasure hunt as its main premise, the simplicity of which surely appeals to almost everyone.
It’s a movie that continually gets bigger and more exciting with every scene, with its penultimate set featuring a giant explosion. It comes at the end of a war sequence and two of the three main characters rig a bridge to spectacularly explode. It looks really dangerous, with debris almost seeming to hit Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallachand was also notable for the fact that the bridge had to be built and destroyed twice, due to costly miscommunication.
“Tough Guy” (1992)
John Woo loves explosions almost as much as he loves doves flying through action scenes. He’s a director known for making some of the best and most impactful action films of all time, and his 1992 classic hard boiled is up there with his greatest contributions to the genre.
Much of the second half of hard boiled is non-stop action, with a lengthy hospital gunfight for the film’s brilliant and gloriously fun final act. Of course, this all culminates in a giant explosion that sees the hospital go up in flames (thankfully after the patients are evacuated). It’s all shot from multiple angles, so you can savor the explosion for as long as possible, making for a perfect ending to a near-perfect action flick.
“The Train” (1964)
The train is an underrated WWII film that benefited from being made just 20 years after the conflict it depicts. As such, he was able to more authentically use elements such as real equipment and costumes to tell his story of French Resistance fighters trying to recover artwork stolen by a high-ranking Nazi officer who plans to leave France with the paintings on the train.
While it may not be as action-packed as action movies of the past few decades, The train still packs a punch, especially given its age. Long before the climax, it even blows up an entire train station, shown in all its glory in a high-angle, high-angle shot, showing how old-school action movies can still deliver the goods.
‘The Rock’ (1996)
Anyone who knows Michael Bay knows that he is a director who loves explosions. It became kind of a meme when the Transformers movies were coming out, but those movies about robots in disguise weren’t the first times Bay showed her love for things that exploded on screen.
The rock is arguably his best action film, and certainly one of his most relentless. While much of the film’s action takes place in and around Alcatraz prison, a car chase through San Francisco at the start probably offers the most explosions. Is it unrealistic how many vehicles explode during this? A little. Is it undeniably fun, though? Absolutely.
“The Bridge Over the River Kwai” (1957)
The Bridge over the River Kwai might have the best on-screen explosion out of all the Best Picture Oscar winners. It’s a classic WWII film about British prisoners of war who are forced to build a bridge for the Japanese forces that captured them, while American forces plot to blow up the bridge.
In this way, it does a great job of highlighting the futility of war and how everyone loses at the end of the day. It also does this while being entertaining and quite suspenseful throughout, and the huge bridge explosion itself at the film’s climax is undoubtedly hard to forget.
NEXT: Action-Packed Sequels For Low-key Films