PAIN & GAIN (2013)

Genre: Comedy/Action
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Tony Shalhoub, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Yolanthe Cabau
RunTime: 2 hrs 10 mins
Rating: M18 (Violence, Drug Use And Coarse Language)
Released By: UIP
Official Website:
Opening Day: 
1 August 2013

Synopsis:  A pair of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

Movie Review:

In exchange for his service at directing the next lucrative Transformers gig, Paramount agree to finance this long in-development Michael Bay’s pet project based on a true crime in Miami. This is definitely Bay’s most serious movie since Pearl Harbor (don’t snigger please) and of course the cheapest at a mere US$22 million.

What is the American dream? Has that got to do with your personal greed or worst, your steroid-fueled ego? Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo, an ex-convict who now works as a personal trainer for Sun Gym. This guy knows how to talk, he knows how to sell and he seriously knows fitness. Within three months, he turned Sun Gym from a gym for old folks to one of the hottest gyms in Miami. But Lugo is not satisfied. He is chasing his dream. After attending a motivational talk, he is determined to be a doer. Ironically his plan of becoming rich is to turn to crime. Roping in his fellow bodybuilders, Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), the trio decides to kidnap one of Lugo’s rich clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) planning to force and torturing him to turn his assets and money to them.

Not to spoil your viewing experience, the trio did manage to get away with the scheme. Apparently, the police found Kershaw to be such a dickhead that they didn’t follow up with his report. But then money is so evil at times that human just can’t get enough of the social status, luxurious cars, women and drugs that the dollar sign can buy. Doyle for one spent all of his money on cocaine; stripper and he yearn for a bigger scheme with his buddies-in-crime. This time, it’s a road of no return for them.    

For a director who sealed his reputation with noisy effects-driven movies, Pain & Gain liked he promised is a much toned down product. Opting for more character-driven sequences and grounded storytelling, Bay with the help of screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (The Narnia franchise, Captain America and the upcoming Thor: The Dark World) delivers a straight-forward “Be a doer but don’t do crime” cautionary tale. The crime as it is portrayed onscreen is so ridiculous that Bay needed to assure the audience that this is still a true story at the 108 minutes mark.

Bay being Bay however still sneaks in a couple of his trademark execution being the spiral shot (showcased in Bad Boys II), slow motion shots and excessive use of lens flare (Transformers) throughout the duration. His gratuitous jabs at libido, homosexuality, prominently display of tits and strippers and unnecessary grisly bits can be quite a turn-off. The millionaire filmmaker simply thinks the audience find these amusing; we on the other hand rather focused on the performances of his cast which in one word – brilliant. Dwayne Johnson stole the whole show with his portrayal of a born again Christian with a cocaine addiction and he comes across a genuine good guy who is being pushed to the wrong side of the road.  Mark Wahlberg is a force to be reckoned with as the prolific star chalked up yet another charismatic performance. Ed Harris, the solemn, no-nonsense actor appeared late in the movie as an ex-cop turned private detective while Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect) provides some comic-relief as the wife of Doorbal.

If the editing has been tighter, Pain & Gain might just ended up as an accomplished black comedy. When you come to think of it, comedy is not really a good word to describe it because watching three idiots with their lives spiraling down to hell isn’t funny after all.  

Movie Rating:  

(No joke, it's all pain watching testosterone-fueled bodybuilders on the way to hell)

Review by Linus Tee

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