Pain and Gain Review: A Roided-Out Crime Movie

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Pain and Gain is like if a Coen Brothers movie and a Scorsese movie had a baby and that baby disappointed its parents and went into porn.

At its core, the film is about a trio of hapless men just trying to get ahead in life, but who end up getting in way over their heads.

Pain and Gain Poster

The difference between Pain and Gain and every Coen Brothers movie with that premise is that Michael Bay’s hapless men aren’t timid and pathetic.

They’re not looking for recompense or justice. They’re just greedy meatheads.

Mark Wahlberg stars as Daniel Lugo, a bodybuilder not satisfied with his decent job doing literally the only thing he knows how to do: personal training.

When a rich sandwich magnate named Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) who’s less of an “asshole,” as Lugo describes him, and more of an annoying weirdo, becomes his client, he decides to twist the advice of a hack motivational speaker played by Ken Jeong (The Hangover Part III), and extort him for all he’s worth.

To help him, Lugo enlists fellow bodybuilders Adrian Doorbal, played by Anthony Mackie, and ex-con Paul Doyle, played by Dwayne Johnson.

Pain and Gain Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, Dwayne Johnson

As you would expect, the three have no clue what they’re doing, and after a series of failed attempts thought up on the fly, they finally capture Kershaw.

The only problem? He won’t sign away all of his material possessions willingly.

What follows is a frenetic mess of half-baked ideas to make their plan happen. It’s at times hilarious, and at times truly terrifying in its misguided, unnecessary violence.

Bay is the most unapologetically showy director working today. His films are notoriously devoid of character development and plot, and Pain and Gain is really no different.

Everything is surface. Characters straight up say what they’re thinking to each other. Voiceovers are given to every major player, in a way that is much less charming and plot-serving than in Casino or Goodfellas. Scenes freeze and captions are thrown up reminding us that yes, this is a true story.

The color pallet is bright and saturated. Nothing much remains unseen. And American flags litter the frame. We get it, American dream, yadda yadda.

Pain and Gain Mark Wahlberg

With all its brazenness, though, Pain and Gain actually works. Bay’s style of roided-out Hollywood blatancy fits the story, and given that Bay began in the 90s and has seemed to long for them ever since, he seems comfortable making a movie set in that decade.

Pain and Gain would be hard to truly love as a film, though. Not because its characters are idiots, or because their motivations are extremely under-defined (when did that drug addiction come back?? Meh, who cares), but the film, like most of Bay’s works, seems entirely built to make a cool trailer.

Trailers are flashy. They say very little. They’re meant to draw you to the theater. But once you’re there, you’re supposed to get more. Well, with Pain and Gain, you don’t get more.

In fact, if you’ve seen the trailers, you could probably show up an hour late to the film and know everything the audience knows. That’s a problem.

RATING: 2.5/5

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Pain & Gain is what it looks like when Michael Bay decides he wants to make a little movie, as opposed to another action epic. The director known for making bombastic action blockbusters has taken a step back to make a smaller film based on a true story, but it does not mean he put his signature style in check. Pain & Gain is very glossy film, gorgeous at times, and certainly not subtle. It is also an incredibly dark comedy, with a story so ridiculous that it has to be true, and it is. Based on a true crime story, this film does its best to depict what happens when seemingly good-natured crooks get in way over their heads and resort to drastic measures to achieve their American dream. While Bay's style can be grating for some, the mix of a strong cast and a messy, but compelling story makes this a film with a lot more going on than the standard Bay blockbuster. You want to be the same as they?
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OH, HA'S WHY HE LOOKS LIKE HAT !!! THOUGHT HE JUST NAURALLY HAS FAT CHUBBY MEXICAN MAID ARMS

2wild42long

J Dweeber: Since apparently you are a little S-L-O-W, I'll try not to use words too big for you to follow,Okay? You say-it,but it just Doesn't seem to SINK IN: "IT IS A 'TRUE' STORY...Wait for it...Wait for it..." If you're wondering what I'm talking about(which is even MORE proof that you're mentally deficient) It means that Mr. Bay has to STAY WITHIN THE LINES,YOU DOOF'!!! So OF COURSE there's NOT going to be any CHARACTER GROWTH,or,PLOT GROWTH,or Anything ELSE along these lines Because---Mr. BAY CANNOT MAKE IT UP AS HE GOES ALONG!! THAT,my slow-witted,reviewer,WOULD NEGATE The STORY FROM BEING---Say it with me now---T-R-U-E!! Mr. Bay did a Solid Film from what he had to Work With! AND,on another note for you,'Dweeby'---NO-ONE ELSE Could Have Given a BETTER Performance for the 3 Real Characters,than Wahlberg,Johnson,and Mackie!
In the future,Justin,it would be helpful to ALL concerned,if you would pay more attention to what you're watching,so that you can more accurately speak on it in your 'so-called' reviews. Because if you can't do any better than this---you need to be fired, and let them bring-in someone More QUALIFIED to do film reviews. For at the moment---YOU are Sorely Lacking,sir...
I have only written ONE Non-Fiction novel,simply because you HAVE to stay with the TRUTH. Otherwise,it's NO LONGER a 'TRUE' Story. To me(and this is just my opinion)Non-Fiction is one of the MOST RESTRICTIVE of the genre's! And, why I will stay with Fiction. Fiction allows room for creativity,and a vast array of possibilities. THERE You can have as much 'Character Growth' and 'Plot Growth' as you want and/or Create. To make something great out of a Non-Fiction Story,truly Impresses the hell out of me...My hat is off to you Mister's Bay,Johnson,Wahlberg,and Mackie. I look forward to seeing more of your works in the future...Later all; Hollywood---Out...

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......they haven't met me yet.

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