Movie Review: Pain and Gain

Pain and Gain  STARRING: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shaloub, Rebel Wilson, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Pali, Ken Jeong

WRITTEN BY: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFreely

DIRECTED BY: Michael Bay

Directed by Michael Bay. That phrase immediately conjures up a specific meaning in your mind, and you already have a forgone conclusion about whether or not this film is a piece of crap. I would say, in a weird way, this is both a hit and a miss.

Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a weight-lifting lunkhead who dreams of a better life. He’s tired of grinding away for chump change, and he sees an opportunity when Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub) stumbles into his life. He comes up with a plan to steal Kershaw’s money by kidnapping him. He assembles the worst team ever, with Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian (Anthony Mackie), and they grab Kershaw and torture him into signing over his assets.

They let Kershaw go (not really, they think he’s dead) and the second half of the film is about the three idiots living the life, and Kershaw hiring a private eye (Ed Harris) to investigate (because the cops didn’t believe his story). Our three “protagonists” are some of the dumbest criminals ever, so you almost feel sorry for them. It’s hard to feel sorry for Kershaw, because even before the kidnapping, he’s portrayed as an unlikable douchebag. I also found it hard to like Lugo and the gang, because they were just so effing stupid.

As far as this film being a hit, it is a step in the right direction for Michael Bay as a serious director. Trying to create a story, without massive explosions, robots, aliens, or any other computer generated creatures must have been really hard for him. I sympathize. However, this is still a bit of a mess. Having each character, even the minor ones, narrate at some point got a little silly. Halfway through the movie, when I decided I didn’t like any of the characters, I was done with the movie. The three leads are too stupid to be likeable, and they’re also criminals, but the victim is also unlikeable. Ed Harris was the only one out of the gang I actually thought had redeemable characteristics, so the final act of the film for me went on a little too long.

And, I love Rebel Wilson too. But she’s incredibly out of place here. Letting Rebel do her thing in this film is like having a piece of chocolate in the middle of your pizza. Sure, the chocolate is awesome… but as a topping on your pizza? As a whole, this film just didn’t really work for me. It’s not a terribly unwatchable film, but it is way longer than it needed to be, which drains  your attention span. And while I appreciate Bay trying to tell a simple story, he’s not very good at it.


One thought on “Movie Review: Pain and Gain

  1. Good review Mac. While it is a strange movie, coming from Michael Bay, I’m at least glad he kept it fun and exciting, even if the moral of the story did get sort of jumbled-up in whatever the hell he was doing.

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