Review: Pain & Gain

Pain And Gain

The true story of criminal bodybuilders in mid 90s Miami is a match made in heaven for a director like Michael Bay. He couldn’t have come up with a better piece of fiction himself. Based on the crimes of the so called “Sun Gym Gang” the movies follows Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), and Paul Doyle (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) as they decide to kidnap, murder, and steal to live the lives they have always wanted for themselves.

The story begins with Daniel Lugo not being happy with his current situation, financially speaking. As a personal trainer he isn’t pulling that much money to live comfortably. Tired of the day to day struggle he talks his fellow gym rat, Adrian, into working on a scheme to make a lot of money fast. Adrian who isn’t particularly much of a leader or thinker goes along without very much coercing. The two then recruit resident hulk Paul Doyle. Doyle is fresh out of jail, loves Jesus, and yet is a violent loveable fool.

The three embark on a plan to kidnap one of Daniel Lugo’s rich gym clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Kershaw is a first rate jerk so you aren’t suppose to feel too much sympathy for the guy. All the interactions that Kershaw and Lugo have are just an exercise in Lugo silently hating Kershaw and wishing he had his wealth. While watching the movie I could sympathize with Lugo here. Once the kidnapping begins we start to see just how utterly useless this so called gang is in pressure situations. Hilarious in parts and downright horrible in others the gang’s behavior pulls you in to their world. I found myself just wondering what they could possibly do next, and being equally as shocked as the time before. When the story is all said and done you are happy with what happens to these would be criminals. While I thought the movie was laugh out loud funny, I didn’t want them to win in the end. They were horrible human beings and they deserved everything they got. However, following them on this ride was incredibly satisfying. The movie was a 2 hour fun run of criminal stupidity. The performances in this movie were basically just a bunch of guys having a blast. Mark Wahlberg is clearly loving the idea of beefing up and playing a know-it-all. Tony Shalhoub plays maybe the least sympathetic victim in movie history. His over the top dickish rich guy portrayal made you root for the bad guys for a time, and not feel forced. Anthony Mackie was just ok, but I thought he could have been more on. He seemed to just show up in scenes and deliver mediocre one liners and walk off; I expected more from him. Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson by far stole the show. Every line delivered was with such earnest idiocy that you might have worried that he was hit in the head early in the filming process. Deadpan delivery of his ridiculous lines made the crowd laugh every time. This is one of 4 movies Johnson is doing this year, and for this one he nails it.

The Michael Bay we all know is officially back. While critically panned for his work on those abysmal Transformers movies, Pain & Gain is right in Bay’s wheelhouse. Never straying away from what made the Bad Boys movies so popular and pushing the comedic elements even further. Pain & Gain if nothing else was absolutely beautiful to watch. Set in 1994-95 Miami, the bright colors were there and the feel of the times stood out. The costuming in this movie was dead on, and you laughed and cringed at the thought of being seen in those clothes just a few years ago. All and all, Bay does well here, but drags us along for too long of a ride. At 2:10 Pain & Gain could cut about 25 minutes and still be a tight yet entertaining script. A very enjoyable movie that sets the summer season off in the right direction.

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