Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg, and Anthony Mackie in “Pain& Gain”
Michael Bay is known for directing over-the-top action movies and the occasional eye-opener like Pearl Harbor. However, he has never directed a comedy and now we know why. With a title that sounds more like a boxing movie in the tradition of Raging Bull or Rocky. Pain & Gain is sadly a movie about a bunch of body building idiots that have aspirations of fame and fortune, but have no desire to work for it the traditional way. Instead they would rather use their muscle instead of trying to build some Braun.
Tired of just living life as it is and after seeing Johnny Wu’s (Ken Jeong) get rich quick presentation Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) decide that they are going to take a fellow gym-mate, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), for everything has he lock, stock and barrel. However, they can’t do it alone so one day at the Gym they meet Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and without question he is enlisted in Lugo’s plot to rip off Kershaw; despite Lugo’s rather simple plan, things don’t go as planned and the group of dunder heads must improvise.
It’s hard to believe that this is based on a true story, but due to the fact that the events of the film are in Florida, it’s easier to believe than say if they took place in California. There are to many strippers and cocaine for it to have taken place anywhere else, but Florida. The characters in this film are nothing but scumbags with more muscle to boot than Braun and would rather spend their free time in a strip club, instead of chasing the American dream the old fashioned way. Johnson’s Doyle is nothing but a recovering coke addict and strong believer in the Holy Book; Mackie’s Doorbal is roid –injecting-would-be-white-guy who falls for Rebel Wilson’s awkwardly funny Nurse Robin Peck, and Wahlberg’s Lugo, a would be Nathan Ford, is no smarter than a high school graduate with a failure to launch a career in anything, but stealing from the rich for the sake of one’s own being.
Michael Bay has nonetheless proven that he can tell a good story and I can understand wanting to change the pace of things in between those god-forsaken Transformers movies; but Pain & Gain is certainly his worst effort yet. It’s a comedy directed as an action film, that has a strong opening, but fails to see the bigger picture. I am however, pleased to say that this is the only film of Bay’s that doesn’t feature explosions as the main plot point and that is an improvement all on its own. If anything the film’s 26 million dollar budget is a testament to what a filmmaker is capable of with a-lower-than-your-average-blockbuster-budget. I do not recommend Pain & Gain because there are certainly better movies to see this weekend, but if you’re looking for cheap laughs this just might be the movie for you.