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Review: Pain & Gain

Apr. 26, 2013by: JimmyO

PLOT: In the latest feature from Michael Bay, the director takes a break from the massive budget spectacle of giant robots. PAIN AND GAIN is a true crime story, one in which the director brings his over-the-top style to a story about three bodybuilders (two of which work at a local Miami gym) who decide to go for the American dream, but with deadly circumstances. While this is definitely larger than life in many ways, it is a surprisingly small and personal comic crime caper. It also happens to take on a much darker direction than we’ve seen from the director than ever before.

REVIEW: Loaded with T & A, violence, torture and all sorts of nastiness, this is not simply “Based on a True Story.” While I’m sure Bay and company took liberties with the details, this really happened, dismembered body parts and all. When Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is inspired by a self-help guru named Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong) to get more out of life, he enlists a couple muscle bound buddies to kidnap one of his wealthy clients - a not so gentlemanly Victor Kershaw (a terrific Tony Shalhoub). The brutes in question include a Jesus loving born again Christian Paul Doyle (based on the real life Jorge Delgado) played by Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie as Adrian Doorbal. Their ill-conceived plan is reminiscent of the 1980 comedy NINE TO FIVE, but this time with a heavy dose of R-rated viciousness and bloodshed.

While it is most assuredly impossible to really sympathize with the three muscle men, the victims here don’t elicit a whole lot of compassion either. Shalhoub is a rich son of a bitch that is loaded in money and is nearly unlikeable on every level. When Lugo and his gang of hoods attempt to force the multi-millionaire to give up his home and all his money, you almost root for these misguided schlubs… then again, maybe not. PAIN AND GAIN is able to tell this story with its tongue planted firmly in cheek loaded with gallows humor that keep you entertained. While not excessively violent, there are certainly a few bloody and disturbing images as the trio falls deeper and deeper into their very dangerous plan. The more they accomplish, the more they have to take and the less sympathetic they become.

Thankfully, the performances here are spot on. Wahlberg is terrific as the “brains” of the group and he and Mackie make an impressive duo. And then there is Johnson. The wrestler turned actor has made some serious accomplishments here. While he attempted this strong and sensitive type back in SOUTHLAND TALES with not so shining results, he is absolutely perfect here. If it weren’t for the despicable nature of the crimes committed, these guys would be fascinating to hang out with. The camaraderie between the actors is undeniable and it works on every level, even when the film begins to get a little bleak.

There is something to be said about a testosterone fueled heist flick about muscle heads looking to take a chunk of the American Dream any way they can. And Michael Bay relishes in the aesthetics of it all, creating what is most assuredly his most accomplished film in years, at least from a story and performance standpoint. Technically of course, he does his thing with terrific results. He even creates some impressively humorous moments by poking fun at his own style. This includes one of the most hilarious slow motion shots involving Mr. Wahlberg and an oncoming car. The action manages to intermingle with the humor incredibly well.

As outrageously entertaining as it is watching the three leads - as well as Shaloub and the very effective Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson and Ed Harris in smaller roles – PAIN AND GAIN at times outstays its welcome setting up the crime. There is so much time spent early on to where the men meet and finally decide to put their plan into action that the last half hour is brushed over and lessens the impact of the story. It works in a sense, because the filmmakers seem to want the viewer to understand the reasoning why the guys do what they do. Yet because of this PAIN AND GAIN feels a bit uneven as far as the structure is concerned.

PAIN AND GAIN is ultimately a success and probably one of Bay’s most accomplished movies to date. The true crime element is an interesting one, especially as the stakes get higher and higher – at one point a title card reminds you that this is still a true story. With three fantastic lead performances and a healthy dose of style, those who can appreciate an action-packed black comedy will savor the ride.

Source: JoBlo.com

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12:28PM on 04/28/2013

Started off well...

I really liked the biting satire that this film contained in the first hour. The big problem is that Michael Bay can't direct anything without his frantic style. It was very overbearing at points. He tried to heighten the already ridiculous real life scenarios that this film contained. It was too long. It overstayed its welcome.
I really liked the biting satire that this film contained in the first hour. The big problem is that Michael Bay can't direct anything without his frantic style. It was very overbearing at points. He tried to heighten the already ridiculous real life scenarios that this film contained. It was too long. It overstayed its welcome.
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+2
4:03AM on 04/27/2013
Funny, the first picture looks like when a grown up shakes hand with a little kid.
Funny, the first picture looks like when a grown up shakes hand with a little kid.
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9:29PM on 04/26/2013
8/10? This is possibly Bay's best film since The Island.
8/10? This is possibly Bay's best film since The Island.
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11:56AM on 04/24/2013
Watching this. Nice Review.
Watching this. Nice Review.
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9:17PM on 04/23/2013
8/10? I'm surprised!
8/10? I'm surprised!
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4:20PM on 04/23/2013
This review totally convinced me to see this movie!
This review totally convinced me to see this movie!
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4:12PM on 04/23/2013
Just read the real article on the real story. It's about 30 pages long and one of the most fascinating crime stories I've ever read or heard of hands down. Truth be told though the real members of the Sun Gym Gang were total scum and absolutely psychotic. Can't wait to see Bays take on it though! Highly suggest you check out the real story too.
Just read the real article on the real story. It's about 30 pages long and one of the most fascinating crime stories I've ever read or heard of hands down. Truth be told though the real members of the Sun Gym Gang were total scum and absolutely psychotic. Can't wait to see Bays take on it though! Highly suggest you check out the real story too.
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2:39PM on 04/23/2013

Band Wagon

I think it has just become popular culture to knock Michael Bay. He is what he is and has been for years. Delivers popcorn movies that generally do well at box office! There's a lot of his movies I love - so many haters!
I think it has just become popular culture to knock Michael Bay. He is what he is and has been for years. Delivers popcorn movies that generally do well at box office! There's a lot of his movies I love - so many haters!
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4:31PM on 04/25/2013
totally agree, his only real bad film is Pearl harbor, the Transformers films are what they are with his signature style, only so far you can take a film about giant alien robots.
totally agree, his only real bad film is Pearl harbor, the Transformers films are what they are with his signature style, only so far you can take a film about giant alien robots.
+6
2:34PM on 04/23/2013

Looking forward to it.

This seems like the type of movie that Michael Bay could pull off really well. A true story, but set in a kind of exaggerated reality, which his visual style is perfect for. Who knows, surrealism might be his milieu?
This seems like the type of movie that Michael Bay could pull off really well. A true story, but set in a kind of exaggerated reality, which his visual style is perfect for. Who knows, surrealism might be his milieu?
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2:22PM on 04/23/2013
Happy this got positive reviews. I am probably a person in the minority that actually enjoy Michael Bay's movies. I think the negative feedback generally comes from people expecting an oscar worthy movie when they sit down to watch a Michael Bay flick. And in all honesty, he's not making movies for the arthouse crowd, he's making movies for all the regular people that just want to be entertained for 2 hours. I've loved all his work, even Transformers, but I think he's at his best when he's
Happy this got positive reviews. I am probably a person in the minority that actually enjoy Michael Bay's movies. I think the negative feedback generally comes from people expecting an oscar worthy movie when they sit down to watch a Michael Bay flick. And in all honesty, he's not making movies for the arthouse crowd, he's making movies for all the regular people that just want to be entertained for 2 hours. I've loved all his work, even Transformers, but I think he's at his best when he's doing realistic movies about real people in believable situations. Bad Boys is still an awesome action movie, this looks like it's going to be very much in the same vein.
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4:53PM on 04/23/2013
I agree you totally are in the minority because clearly you don't know jack about Michael Bay movies. Its time for people drop the whole idiotic "Oh, don't expect oscar worthy movies from him" argument. Check how many of his movie have Oscar nominated before you bore us with your ignorance.
I agree you totally are in the minority because clearly you don't know jack about Michael Bay movies. Its time for people drop the whole idiotic "Oh, don't expect oscar worthy movies from him" argument. Check how many of his movie have Oscar nominated before you bore us with your ignorance.
1:34PM on 04/24/2013
Hey ActionFan, Bay makes movies that make a ton of money, just because they don't fit into your little mold of what a film should be doesn't make it any less entertaining for those that don't mind mindless action every once in awhile. So what the fuck are you talking about?
Hey ActionFan, Bay makes movies that make a ton of money, just because they don't fit into your little mold of what a film should be doesn't make it any less entertaining for those that don't mind mindless action every once in awhile. So what the fuck are you talking about?
3:23PM on 04/26/2013
All I asked was for you to check how many of Michael Bay's movies have been Oscar nominated before you blabber about how he doesn't give a shit about that stuff, you might be suprised.
All I asked was for you to check how many of Michael Bay's movies have been Oscar nominated before you blabber about how he doesn't give a shit about that stuff, you might be suprised.
+0
2:13PM on 04/23/2013

Wow!

I didn't expect this kind of review. Maybe I will check it out.
I didn't expect this kind of review. Maybe I will check it out.
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+2
1:51PM on 04/23/2013
Glad this doesn't suck. I liked the trailer, despite my apprehensions about Michael Bay. Even he has hits every once in a while. I'll give this a look.
Glad this doesn't suck. I liked the trailer, despite my apprehensions about Michael Bay. Even he has hits every once in a while. I'll give this a look.
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1:50PM on 04/23/2013

It sounds good...

It sounds pretty good, surprising for a Michael Bay film. But the thing that really irked me is that the trailer made it seem like a very lighthearted and fun movie. This review says it's a black comedy. I read the Miami New Times rundown of the whole story, and it sounded... so dark. I mean, the kind of stuff that a Hostel movie would showcase more than a comedy. So is this movie more of a comedy than a dark crime drama?

It just worries me that a true story with such dark, dark
It sounds pretty good, surprising for a Michael Bay film. But the thing that really irked me is that the trailer made it seem like a very lighthearted and fun movie. This review says it's a black comedy. I read the Miami New Times rundown of the whole story, and it sounded... so dark. I mean, the kind of stuff that a Hostel movie would showcase more than a comedy. So is this movie more of a comedy than a dark crime drama?

It just worries me that a true story with such dark, dark geneses would be made into a film where we're supposed to be laughing with our characters.
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1:37PM on 04/23/2013
Fuck. I have to wait until August to see this. Movie piracy is a crime, but so is the wait for movies.
Fuck. I have to wait until August to see this. Movie piracy is a crime, but so is the wait for movies.
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1:31PM on 04/23/2013
Fantastic, can't wait for the weekend to see it.
Fantastic, can't wait for the weekend to see it.
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+7
1:26PM on 04/23/2013
I thought this looked like a fun film, it is different than most of his films. i'll see it.
I thought this looked like a fun film, it is different than most of his films. i'll see it.
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1:25PM on 04/23/2013
Great review and so glad to see this getting Jimmyo's stamp of approval. I was already excited to see this. Now I absolutely cannot wait for the Friday showing.
Great review and so glad to see this getting Jimmyo's stamp of approval. I was already excited to see this. Now I absolutely cannot wait for the Friday showing.
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