Coming off one of the biggest box office hits in history, Michael Bay comes out with his first non-Transformers movie since The Island. Interestingly enough, it is also Michael Bay’s first movie that does not have to do with any big time explosions, car chases, and over the top fight scenes and shootouts. Compared to previous Michael Bay movies, Pain and Gain is pretty tame.
Pain and Gain is a bizarre true story of Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg), a fitness instructor of Sun Gym in Miami, who plans to steal money from Victor Kershaw, a filthy rich grade-A jerk. Lugo brings in his friends Adrian (played by Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne ?“The Rock” Johnson) on the idea after attending a self-help meeting. Things go smoothly first, but then they always don’t. This is a true story that must be seen to believe. It is even reiterated through out the movie at random moments that this movie is still a true story.
It should be noted that the trailers for this movie are far from actually showing how serious the topic is. The movie is a true story and it is about real life murder. Do not expect all humor like the trailers suggest. Michael Bay actually was tasteful in the way of telling the story. He had a good mix of comedy and drama. The movie was serious when it needed to be, funny when it needed to be.
Pain and Gain has a good cast to compliment the story. Mark Wahlberg was great as Daniel Lugo, who you actually can’t stand as a real guy. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson though was the standout. It is his best performance, period. He is great at playing a guy who is conflicted and you can’t help but root for the guy. Anthony Mackie, Ken Jeong, and Rebel Wilson, who played his wife in the movie, were also some nice comedic relief. Unfortunately Rob Corddry, who played another accomplice of the Sun Gym Gang, and Ed Harris, who helped take down the gang, were very underwritten. They were both great in their roles and it was sad to see that they did not get the screen time they deserved.
There are some drawbacks to Pain and Gain, but these also work to the advantage of the movie at times. Slo-mo was used a bit too much, but it still worked. The only time it felt like it was dragging out the movie was the scenes of kidnapping. It also added humor where it was definitely not needed. Another draw back was the heavy use of narration. It was nice to hear the different perspectives of the characters, what they were thinking, but it just got a bit boring. These draw backs did drag out the movie a bit, mainly in the middle and the climax.
Pain and Gain is Michael Bay’s strongest movie to date, for obvious reasons when seeing it. It is definitely not for everyone and it can come off as offensive. For those crime drama fans out there, this is worth a watch!
GRADE: A-: For some underwritten characters, the extremely heavy use of Slo-mo and narration, and the dragging of the story in the middle of the film.