The Most Impressive Explosions In Action Movies, Ranked

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With advancements in practical effects, special effects, CGI, pyrotechnics, set and actor safety, and more; movies (and cinema in general) have been able to move beyond visual spectacles and storytelling ideas. From small fireworks in a slow scene to absolutely huge and explosive explosions in space, oceans and on planets; directors and crews have grown accustomed to making explosions in movies an artistic skill.



Over the past decades and years, some directors have been known for explosion sets, and some films and genres have been known for exquisite explosion masterpieces. Michael Bay (Transformers, bad boys) has a whole filmography embellished with stylish pyrotechnics. Movies such as Bridge over the River Kwai are known for their symbolic and narrative uses of explosions. Recently, the latest James Bond movie, no time to die, set the Guinness World Record for the most explosives detonated for a movie. These sets are only set to be bigger and better than their predecessors. With that, here are the most impressive action movie explosions, ranked.

Related: ‘No Time to Die’ Explosive Finale Breaks Records

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6 The Matrix (1999)

Already somewhat revolutionary with its seminal use of CGI and stunning action sequences, The matrix (starring Keanu Reaves and directed by the Wachowskis) is also known for having one of the best blasts in the action genre. Near the film’s climax, Neo (Reeves) and Trinity (Moss) continue their fight against the Agents; their helicopter begins to lose control. Neo jumps down, lands on top of a building, and lassos the helicopter to try and stop it from crashing (with Trinity still in place). Alas, it’s not strong enough, and in one of the most fantastic uses of CGI, the helicopter crashes into a nearby building (in slow motion) as if the building were made of soft material. Then, seconds later, the helicopter explodes, shards of glass fly out of the building, and Trinity swings from danger and fire. A truly impressive feat from the graphics team, winning the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.


5 V for Vendetta

A film based on the great graphic novels of writer Alan Moore, V for Vendetta follows a man known simply as V, who attempts to bring down the dystopian, fascist government that the UK has become. In a series of coordinated attacks, V makes his statement to the people and the government about what he plans to do, specifically a year from now, on Guy Fawkes Night. And true to his word, a year later, with the help of his assistant Evey Hammond (Portman); V, using an old wagon full of explosives, blows up the Parliament building, symbolizing both the physical downfall of government and the symbolic downfall of government, allowing the peoples to rise up and create a new government from their ashes. Visually exciting and full of depth, the explosion of the Parliament building was one of the film’s highlights.


4 No Time to Die (2021)

The last entry in the james bond franchise (based on Ian Fleming’s book series), as well as the latest Bond film for actor Daniel Craig. In a classic fight between archrival Ernst Blofeld, the Spectre Organization, and a new villain (played by Rami Malek) Safin; and alongside his sidekick Nomi (the new 007, played by Lashana Lynch), Bond goes on another mission to stop the destruction of the world. At the film’s climax, a missile strike is called on the factory where Safin and Bond are fighting. In a record configuration, containing 136.4 kilograms of TNT equivalent, the missiles hit the factory and the island, destroying it permanently. Not easy for a film crew to get together. The payment was well worth it, seeing one of the biggest and best explosions on the big screen.


3 Apocalypse Now (1979)

On the set of one of the most troubled film shoots of all time, occurred one of the most iconic action movie explosions in movie history. Revelation now, Francis Ford Coppola’s dark Vietnam War film starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford and many more, has many, many blowouts throughout its history. The best known, showing the cruelty of war, is the airstrike in a Vietnamese forest at the start of the film. Holding nothing back, the forest bursts into fire, destruction and pain; no beauty in the sight of it all. Combined with the dark line of Bill Kilgore (Duvall), I like the smell of napalm in the morning“, this explosion delivers a stark message to the public about the horrors of war.

2 Bridge over the River Kwai (1957)

Another epic war movie (considered one of the greatest films ever made) and starring the great Alec Guinness, Bridge over the River Kwai follows British POW soldiers in a Japanese POW camp, who are forced to build a new bridge over the River Kwai. With a serious plot, an emotional roller coaster, and a brilliant plot, the film won seven Oscars. Perhaps the best part of the movie is its ending, in which the soldiers who built the bridge blow it up with dynamite. The explosion is also well known for its symbolic significance, with the soldiers taking revenge on their captors and gaining a turning point in the war.

Related: “The Hurt Locker” Get a 4K Bluray Steelbook with bonus content.

1 The Wounded Locker (2008)

The story of an explosive ordnance team in Iraq terrorized by insurgents, while dealing with their new team leader in the horrors of war, The Hurt Locker (directed by Kathryn Bigalow) won six Oscars and was the first Best Picture winner to be directed by a woman. As the film deals with a bomb disarmament team, it has many well-done explosions. Arguably the best is the one that shows off the defusing skills of new Staff Sergeant James. When an Iraqi citizen approaches soldiers wearing a vest full of explosives, Sergeant James and his colleagues immediately get to work getting rid of the vest. Shot almost documentary style, the team lacks time to disarm the vest, and it explodes, brutally. No fireworks or bright flames, just breathtaking shock as the citizen explodes.

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