Movie Review: Pain & Gain
Prinz Lee wrote this review 3 years and 9 months ago
Do you believe in redemption? Well, I do. The Bay is back, and this time embracing something that fits his style a bit more than what we’ve been seeing the past few years. I wholeheartedly still feel he violated my childhood franchise, but in the long run, no matter how much we bitch-and-moan about it…I’m sure we’ll be there for “Transformers 4,” as well as “TMNT!”
This time around, he’s tackled a project that entails one of our country’s most bizarre true-life tales pertaining to a triangle-of-stupidity among those who may very well be America’s dumbest criminals!
“Pain & Gain” exposes a story about a trio known as the “Sun Gym Gang.” A ruthless group of notoriously roided, gym-rats who performed a couple of kidnappings during the mid 90s; aiming to forcefully take riches form those they felt didn’t deserve it! At the cost of obtaining anything and everything they wanted, their kidnappings entailed extreme rough-ups and torture. Led by Daniel Lugo (A hungry, manipulating, brainwasher played by Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (a slow-minded, ex-con, born again Christian played by Dwayne Johnson), and Adrian Doorbal (a hoodwinked, go-along-follower played by Anthony Mackie) are recruited to help orchestrate their ruthless-road-to-the-riches!
There’s a catch to all this. That being as “smart” as they are in terms of taking it to extremes only a whacko would, their fried, meaty, anabolic-brains wouldn’t allow them to think things thoroughly as they would make one mistake after another! Leaving so many bread-trails of idiotic evidence, local authorities would find it hard to believe – especially coming from a victim by the name of Victor Kershaw (a filthy, nasty, money-hungry douchebag played by Tony Shalhoub). Taking matters into his own hands by enlisting the help of Miami’s finest detective Ed Du Bois (played by an always smooth Ed Harris), the duo goes to work, and enjoy the ride as obvious actions from the trio continue, ultimately leading to interesting chases and show-downs.
I may be in the minority here, but I had so much fun with this film, it’s beyond my comprehension as to why a film that was so dumb turned out to be so much fun and effective.
Going back to his “Bad Boy” roots, I give a lot of credit to Michael Bay for having carved this one out. A bit of a “low budget” compared to what he’s been working with in the past, his angle when working with a narrative like this one really shows off his “it-factor” when blending a bit of action and comedy. Never missing from his usual style, what may NOT work in bigger blockbuster films, worked perfectly in “Pain & Gain.” His approach on portraying an imbecilic gang came off a bit much to a degree where one wouldn’t even think twice of it being a true story, and yes I’m sure some of it must have been a bit exaggerated, but it was well-crafted and presented.
Chemistry between Wahlberg, Johnson, and Mackie was simply great fun. Not the trio one would imagine seeing in something a bit more serious, and perhaps maybe not working as well if that ever happened, but something about the script, the characters, and the overall aura of the film lined them up very well. Much respect to Dwayne Johnson whose artistic choices came off well as Paul Doyle, which eventually led to a pretty good performance. The same can be said about Shalhoub whose character serves as the backbone to the story.
Carrying an important role which serves as a string-of-consciousness to the script is played by Kim Jeong, whose role is short, yet influential, and as always is hysterical and leads to lots of trouble.
On a “downside” I will mention the film does have a lot of violence, tied into graphic scenes which may not seem pleasant for the queasy. But the fact is that much of it entailed actual occurrences, which in the long run only enhances the film to a much more insanely, enjoyable experience.
By far perhaps the dumbest film I think to be released this year, but it’s a breath of fresh air, it’s unique, and (also) allows one to take in some gorgeous Miami-based scenery, as well as embark on a story that challenges you when thinking “you’ve seen it all.”