MOVIE REVIEW: Pain & Gain

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Movie: Pain & Gain
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Studios: De Line Pictures, Platinum Dunes

Pain & Gain is a visually striking film with colorful characters, big action, and decent comedy that will leave you wanting a better workout for your brain.

Based on a true story. Those words seemed to be tagged on at the beginning of nearly every single movie these days. Slews of horror films are “based on a true story” and even last year’s best picture, Argo, was. So when you hear those words these days it is hard to get excited. Pain & Gain was based on a true story, but this story is so full of idiocy and absurdity only Michael Bay was fit to direct it, and he did exactly what he always does: make a stylish movie with little substance.

Pain & Gain is the story of how Daniel Lugo, Adrian Doorbal, and Paul Doyle (played by Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson respectively) went from being professional bodybuilders to “professional” kidnappers and extortionists. All three down on their luck and unhappy with their lives decide to follow Lugo’s lead and kidnap one of his wealthy gym clients and force him to sign over all his worldly possessions to them. Things go awry pretty fast as these meatheads soon realize they are in way over their heads with a plan that was doomed from the start.

This movie is everything you expect from the cast and director. The acting is very much spot on. Wahlberg and Johnson are great at playing dumb guys with big dreams and Mackie does a great job of balancing out their giant personalities. Tony Shalhoub has a main role as the asshole target of the kidnapping and he did a great job and making it hard to side with him. The characters felt very real, especially if you have ever spent any time with bodybuilders.

The best part about Pain & Gain was its style. Michael Bay can direct the hell out of an action movie. The shots are varied and cool, mixing fast paced and frantic action with the right amount of interesting visuals and different perspectives. At no point during the 129 minute run time did I find my self bored or anything less that entertained. Even when the plot lulled there was enough comedy between the characters to keep you hooked.

Unfortunately Pain & Gain did have its flaws. At the end of the day this movie is devoid of much substance. The story may have been true and interesting but we only got enough perspectives to side with the criminals. Even the guy they kidnapped is so much of a dick that you really do not care if he lives or dies. These giant stereotypes of the weightlifting community are so roid’d up and full of themselves that there is never a lesson learned between the three of them. You will not be on the edge of your seat at any point because odds are you wont actually care about a single person on screen.

Pain & Gain was exactly what I thought it would be, nothing more, nothing less. If you want action with a dose of comedy make sure you check it out, but I would suggest a guys night out for this movie, I doubt your girlfriend is going to enjoy this testosterone-fest.

Score: C-

Review written by: Justin Proper

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  • Victor Serrano

    I’m glad you didn’t just bash Bay or anyone else for doing exactly what they set out to do. A C- seems like a good score, but I like that you made a point to say that it was actually entertaining and didn’t sit on a high horse. I might see this after all, eventually.