Posted by: pop-break | April 30, 2013

Film Review: Pain & Gain

daniel cohen pumps it up …


Plot: Based on a true story in the mid-nineties, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), a personal fitness trainer obsessed with the American dream, concocts a harebrained scheme with two other muscle heads to steal money from a wealthy business man (Tony Shalhoub) by kidnapping him.


I tried. I really tried. I wanted to love this movie, and for director Michael Bay to prove he’s more than just a guy who likes explosions. And while I’ll give you that this is not a typical Michael Bay film, it has all the same problems. It’s obnoxious. It’s overly long. But most of all, it’s a complete mess.

The tone is all over the place — I have no clue what genre this is supposed to be. Now it’s certainly possible to combine genres, and make them blend together in a satisfying manner. Movies like Beverly Hills Cop or Kick-Ass are great examples of this. But Pain & Gain is so damn skittish, it becomes chaotic and unpleasant to watch, just like any bad Michael Bay action movie. One minute we’ll get a goofy conversation between Lugo and his right hand man Paul (Dwayne Johnson), then two seconds later we see Johnson take a more dramatic turn with the character. Other times we’ll see a gruesome and serious death scene, then two minutes later we’re treated to a ‘hilarious’ romp at Home Depot. This is so disjointed, I can’t even stand it.

Pain and Gain-20120425-33

The voice-overs make this a whole lot worse. I’m trying to follow this poorly edited and chaotic story, but at the same time I’m being beaten over the head with constant narration. And this happens through out the entire two hour plus movie. Characters who aren’t important whatsoever get lengthy voice-overs, making everything that much more jumbled. Whether it be Transformers or Pain & Gain, why do I keep getting headaches while watching Michael Bay films?

Now with all the genres this could fall into, it’s definitely comedy more times then not. And I did get a few chuckles here and there. But this is where Bay just can’t help himself. The same type of Transformers/Bad Boys II humor that I loathe so much is present here once again. Oh, some guy shits all over the bathroom, so there’s poo-poo everywhere. Hahaha. How about when the muscle heads take Victor (Shalhoub) to their abandoned sex toy warehouse with dildos everywhere. Oh, dildos. Holy shit, that’s hysterical. And let’s not forget about casting Rebel Wilson as the overweight nurse who does nothing but make dick jokes. Allow me to borrow from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, but just replace ‘Kahn’s’ name with ‘Bay’s’: BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

Now I’ve been railing on this film pretty hard, but there are some bright spots. Mark Walhberg gives one hell of a performance as Daniel Lugo, the man who devises this whole ridiculous scheme. When you really think about all the bad stuff Lugo does, we should really hate him, but there’s just something about his charisma and ambition that gives you some level of sympathy towards him. And I actually like the first ten minutes when we really get inside his character, and thought his particular voice-overs were very well written. But he should have been the only one to get a voice-over, not 4-5 other characters! I truly admire Walhberg’s performance, despite the shit storm of bad editing and directing that surrounded him.


I feel like I review a movie with Dwayne Johnson every week now. He’s solid here, but his character is so poorly written, I couldn’t even take him seriously. Just like the editing, one minute his character is a born again Christian, then out of nowhere he’s a cocaine addict and screwing everything up, then we’re suddenly sorry for him again … I just had no clue who this character was.

I liked Tony Shalhoub as the rich douchebag they kidnap, and Ed Harris and Rob Corddry play nice little roles as well. The one character I really hated though from both a character and performance standpoint was Anthony Mackie as Adrian, the third man in Lugo’s crew. He’s pathetic and weird, and the movie wants you to think he’s funny, but Bay’s style of humor just makes him unsettling.

What’s especially frustrating about this film is that every time it’s about to get good, Michael Bay ‘bays it up’ with either atrocious jokes, or clunky transitions. The long run time is just completely unnecessary. There are so many worthless comedy bits that add nothing, kind of like most Michael Bay movies. And the third act is endlessly dragged out: We know what’s going to happen, there’s no suspense, and it’s just excruciating to sit through.


It sounds like I detest this film, but there are actually some good dramatic moments mixed in with a moving & sympathetic score. And I can’t say this is completely bad, because the actors are really putting in a worthy effort. With the right director, this material could have been something really great…but that right director is not Michael Bay.

Rating: 5 out of 10 (Barely Passable Entertainment)


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