4. Anything by Jason Bourne
Jason Bourne is the modern master of explosives improv, taking up where MacGyver left off and making world-beating weapons from literally anything that happens to be at hand, especially magazines for some reason. In the Bourne Supremacy, for example, our hero memorably deploys a deadly cocktail of rolled-up copy of Razzle, four-slice toaster and gas to blow some mother way. You can see the fireball in all its gritty glory at about 1:48 here, but sit through the rest of the montage anyway – it’s all great, there’s a load of hand-to-hand and a fair bit of parkour, and you will weep at the memory of how rock the man is.
2. Hospital blow-up in The Dark Knight
OK, it’s a bomb cliche but it’s a good one, I couldn’t miss it off without it looking like I was making some kind of point. It appears the film-makers aren’t crazy for embedding (hey Warner Bros, why so serious?) but you can see the original clip of the explosion here. The camcorder footage below shows the pyrotechnic show created during the filming of Dark Knight. It brings together my fascinations – filming locations and massive fireballs, and looks like they did most of it for real rather than CGI. According to the blurb, ‘Gotham Hospital’ is an abandoned candy factory.
3. End of Akira
There’s so much about Akira that’s just beautiful and brilliant and harsh, and the cryogenics angle probably inspired EOC on some level – but it’s the ending that is so utterly unforgiving and rich in ways its modern counterparts (Heroes? Lost?) can never hope to approach and I love it for that. As a reminder: Tetsuo really loses it, absorbed by the limitless, unknowable force that is Akira, and the film ends with a vast Neo-Tokyo consuming explosion which it seems only Kaneda and his friends survive. It’s a story about the rocky aftermath of one terrible explosion and a second one seems the only fitting way to end – chilling, alien, human and necessary. And it is the simplest and most moving depiction of an explosion I think I’ve ever seen.