Flash back to six months earlier, with Diego taking a job in a Miami gym and turning it into a But that’s not enough. Knowing a client (Tony Shaloub) of his is as wealthy as they come, he recruits bodybuilder Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), whose steroid use has left him important, and fellow ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), who found God somewhere in the prison walls, to join his team and steal his millions. And that’s just the beginning.
Pain & Gain is based on a true story, which the movie reminds us of more than once. There’s been some minor controversy kicked up in regards to the filmmakers making Lugo and company sympathetic characters.
Much of the blame there can be put on director Michael Bay and the cast of Wahlberg and Johnson—both actors are so likeable and charismatic that, even when they’re kidnapping and running people over, the audience is going to shrug it off, laugh along and root for their getting away with it. In the end, Lugo and Doorbal got the death sentence; but you wouldn’t know it from how lightly Bay approaches their crimes. (Perhaps Nick Cassavetes, who at least had the decency to make Alpha Dog a drama, would have been a better fit for the material?) These are not the fun crimes that so many actioners revolve around—Lugo was a real man who, even if he had a few quips at his disposal (and was fortunate enough to have a handsome Oscar nominee portraying him), was a bastard and a killer.
But fans of Bayhem will have no problem with any of this. They’re here for the muscles and explosions and fast cars and slow-motion and gunplay and boobs and nonsensical lines (“You know why habit rhymes with rabbit? Because your whole life goes down the bunny hole.”), and so will play along for all 130 minutes. Pain & Gain may be sourced from real life and lack Optimus Prime, but it’s still not the standout Bay may have hoped for.