If ever there was a film that perfectly encapsulates everything it is to be director Michael Bay, then Pain & Gain is certainly it. Though modestly budgeted compared to his normal blockbusters, Bay still manages to get in a disproportionately-sized helping of boobs, butts, bullets and blow-em-ups. If you love Bay, you’ll love Pain & Gain, but if you find yourself put off by his particular brand of humor (which is self-referential at its best and homophobic, sexist and racist at its worst) then the 129-minute runtime will have you pulling your hair out. And if your Blu-ray purchases are decided by not just the feature but the inclusion of extras, you’ll want to pass on this one. The movie may be beefed up but the Blu-ray is bare bones. Hit the jump for my review.
Pain & Gain is based on the incredible true story of the Sun Gym gang, a trio of Miami bodyguilders who got it into their meatheads that a plan of kidnapping and extortion of a millionaire was a good idea. Obviously, Bay’s version is satirical in nature and should be taken with a scoop or two of protein powder, while the real-life events are horrific and, at times, inhuman, so keep that in mind whilst watching.
Our own Matt Goldberg already gave a positive review to Pain & Gain here, so I won’t retread over familiar territory too much. In general I agree with his review, one that touts Bay for sticking to his excessively oversized guns while knocking his usual penchant for immaturity and shallowness. There are times when Bay, much like a hyperactive child to whom explosions never get old, should probably be restrained for his own well-being, but that would only serve to diminish his Bay-ness, a unique quality which has made him so successful. The already twisted and stranger-than-fiction story that inspired Pain & Gain is the perfect playground for an unfettered Bay and he takes full advantage of it.
Stars Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie and Dwayne Johnson are well cast, especially Wahlberg, whose portrayal of criminal mastermind (using the term loosely) Daniel Lugo gives us a guy who is out of his depth but never quite accepts that fact. Mackie’s Adrian Doorbal and Johnson’s Paul Doyle complete some of the strongest character arcs ever seen in a Bay film: respectively, a self-obsessed and depressed fitness freak transitioning into a happily married man, and a drug addict lowlife who becomes a born-again Christian. But it ain’t all sunshine for these wanna be crooks because they all end up paying for their crimes in the end.
The supporting cast of Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Ed Harris and Ken Jeong all turn in worthwhile performances in roles that let them go off the rails to a degree. Bar Paly gets a bit more consideration than most women in a Bay movie can claim, though it might just be an excuse to for her to flaunt various revealing outfits on camera. (No complaints here.) Rebel Wilson, as always, steals the scenes she’s afforded and gets away with it, unlike her larcenous cohorts.
Not a one to be found, unless you consider a $5 off coupon for Wahlberg-sponsored Marked Performance Nutrition and $10 off Ticketmaster sports tickets to be worthwhile extras.