Reel Shorts | Pain & Gain

pain and gain

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Michael Bay’s latest, Pain & Gain, is the cockeyed story of a group of ambitious bodybuilders who wanted the American Dream and would do anything to get it.

As the film states, it’s unfortunately a true story of a crew that will surely go down as the dumbest and stupidest criminals ever put on film. Their ringleader is Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) who idolizes Scarface and the philosophy of Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong). Working as the manager of a health club, Lugo tires of watching others prosper while he is stuck in a dead-end job.

He concocts a scheme to kidnap a member of his health club, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub) and convinces his steroid addicted buddy, Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and a recently released born-again ex-con, Paul (Dwayne Johnson) to participate in the heist. Their choice of outfits and weaponry quickly tips off the audience that our criminals are not brilliant thinkers. Dressed in what would be piss-poor Halloween costumes, the bumbling crew snatches the bewildered millionaire and convinces him to sign over his fortune.

Instead of killing them when they have the chance, they not only leave him alive but manage to live the high life blowing all of their new found cash on the most insane items.

It takes a great actor to portray characters so brainless and Wahlberg, Mackie and The Rock are really convincing in the roles. The three ease seamlessly into their characters to the point that they become so annoying with their continuously stupidity. Wahlberg channels his inner-Dirk Diggler and gives a solid performance but it is the Rock that turns in one of his best performances playing a more exaggerated version of his bodyguard character in Be Cool. He plays a man who has fallen and is trying to walk the path but is too easily influenced by others and ultimately succumbs to his demons.

Shaloub is great as well as Kershaw, who much like a Timex watch takes a licking from his abductors but keeps on ticking. Additionally humorous support is provided by Rebel Wilson, as Adrian’s wife who will do anything for her man including giving him painful penile injections, sexy Israeli supermodel Bar Paly who thinks she is aiding our idiots by working undercover for them in the CIA and Ed Harris as Det. Ed Dubois who was the only person to see through the idiot’s facade.

It is understandable why Bay would want this project but his stylized story could have been considerably trimmed. The film suffers that there is truly no character to root for as each member trio consistently out does one another in lower in the intelligence bar. This collection of doofus’ will join such legendary company as other high-brow thinkers in films such Snatch, Fargo and Small Time Crooks.

Bay, who streamlined his big-budget sensibilities to fit this story, still manages to give us all the shots we are familiar with from his earlier films but has created a film that people will either be highly entertained or much put off by our criminals constant mental meltdowns.

Grade: C-

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