Pain and Gain is a pointless, charmless, crime-comedy-drama that stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson, as two body builders that find themselves into a world of crime as they aggressively pursue a better lives for themselves.
Set in Florida, in 1995, and based on what (as the film itself says ‘sadly’) is a true story, the film is directed by Michael Bay.
The 3 lead characters (Wahlberg, Johnson, and Anthony Mackie) are all vacuous characters all obsessed with the America dream. Inspired by a self help guru (Ken Jeong) and his motivational speech, Wahlberg’s Daniel Lugo – a personal trainer – sets off on a plan to kidnap one of his rich clients (Tony Shalhoub).
As the caper quickly spirals away from their plan, the characters find themselves completely out of their depth.
Aside, from money, I just don’t get Wahlberg’s relationship with Michael Bay. This is the second film I’ve reviewed that the pair have been involved with and I’ve disliked each of them. There was a period in 2010 to 2013 that he was emerging with some quality performances in fantastic films (I really liked Broken City, Ted, The Other Guys and thought he was fantastic in The Fighter), but between this, 2014’s Transformers and the upcoming 2017 follow up, his work with Bay is starting to leave blotches (although likely very financially positive ones) all over his film CV.
Same goes for Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie in terms of this film although they seem less tied to the work of Bay.
In 2004’s Team America, there is a song that includes the lyrics…
Why does Michael Bay
Get to keep on making movies?
…and its hard to not wonder.
Back to this specific film…
It thinks it is satirical… it isn’t.
It thinks it is oh so very witty… it isn’t.
The violence of the film conflicts with the attempted, failed humour and what results is an unpleasant attempt at recounting a true story that had tragic consequences.
For me, it really doesn’t work and given its grounding in real life events, makes it some of Bay’s most ghastly work yet.