Truth is often said to be stranger than fiction and that sure rings true in Pain and Gain. Based upon the true story of bodybuilder Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) and his partners in both the gym and crime Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson) Daniel Lugo is a personal trainer. There is only one problem. He believes he does not have the lifestyle to go with his ripped body, the lifestyle years of hard work deserves. Lugo then plans to kidnap a local businessman and extort him with the help of Doyle and Doorbal. Whilst Doorbal is easily persuaded, Paul Doyle, the ex-criminal turned Christian with the belief that he was sent to earth to protect God’s creatures is a little harder to convince. Once all persuasions are completed, the gang set about their kidnap and after a few farcical attempts, they succeed. Their fool proof plan slowly starts falling into place and they soon begin to reap the rewards of their efforts. Soon though, the money begins to dwindle and as greed begins to get the better of the trio, things begin to turn a little awry.
Pain and Gain is a mixed bag, just like the trio of bodybuilders cum gangsters it portrays. It features the formula generally associated with the films of Michael Bay. Objectified women, vehicles objectified almost as much as women, men with guns, helicopters at sunrise, explosions, plenty of close-ups: the whole shebang.
Mark Wahlberg is brilliant as Daniel Lugo, a charismatic and cheeky chap dedicated to looking the best he can, but also very persuasive and manipulative. Dwayne Johnson also plays a great character, a Christian ex-convict who brings much of the comedy to the film. The comedy can at times become too cheap and cheesy, although Bay can be forgiven for this. He is not exactly known for his sharp humoured films. Anthony Mackie also brings humour to the film, playing much of it opposite Wahlberg as Lugo’s main man Adrian Doorbal. Doorbal seems to be a mix of both Lugo and Doyle with a lovable and humorous tough guy persona. His mixed character is the main reason he gels so well with Lugo and Doyle on screen who are polar opposites of each other.
Besides the main trio, the supporting cast are also strong. Tony Shalhoub, star of Detective series Monk, plays the rude and arrogant business man targeted by the trio. His detestable personality almost gives the audience reason to tell their selves that he deserves everything he gets. Bar Paly also plays former Miss Bucharest Sorina Luminita, an airheaded blonde beauty who gets involved with Lugo and his gang. Although she spends almost the entirety of the film in her underwear, she is surprisingly not just there for show and does play a rather important part in the film and offers a welcome break from the testosterone fuelled leads.
As in any Michael Bay film the camera work and proximity of the shots are often questionable. The camera spends a lot of time in bikini clad women’s cleavage or buttocks and when Bay feels he has shown a bit too much skin decides to do a close up of a car wheel trim, steering wheel or speedometer. The editing is also a bit odd, often cutting to strange angles and character point of views when the camera was doing fine in a decent midrange shot. It seems Bay did not want us to forget that we are watching one of his films and since there are no giant robots to punch each other in Pain and Gain, he thought the next best thing would be to use plenty of close ups and dodgy edits to remind us.
One of the biggest shocks of the film is the lack of explosions. Taking into account that in all of his films Michael Bay has racked up almost a thousand explosions in his films, Transformers: Dark of the Moon has a massive 283, the boom count was disappointingly low. You can count Pain and Gain’s total on one hand! Maybe Michael substituted explosions on cheap and cheesy jokes, of which there are probably around 283.
Overall the film is decent, not overly good but not terrible either. Despite the comedy becoming too thick and cheap at times it still makes you laugh throughout and the overall story is both entertaining and intriguing. It is also shocking that such farcical characters managed to commit such a crime. The credits are also fairly entertaining to watch as they show copies of real documents from the case. The chainsaw return receipt seems too stupid to be true. (Watch the film. You’ll understand.) The action scenes also do not disappoint although this is a given since that is Bay’s forte. Pain and Gain is definitely not the best film out this summer but certainly not the first. If you want something you do not need to invest too much concentration in go and see it. An action fuelled comedy based on a true crime that is worth a watch.
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