This is certainly a step up for Director Michael Bay from “Transformers.”
“Pain and Gain” follows Daniel Lugo, played by Mark Wahlberg. Lugo is a steroid-using muscle trainer at a gym who, after attending a convention which tells the audience to be a “doer,” decides to do something to make himself get all the wealth and glory that he thinks he deserves.
Lugo eventually gets fellow trainer Adrian, played by Anthony Mackie, and ex-prisoner- turned-devout-Christian Paul Doyle, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, to assist him in a rather crazy plan. The three execute a scheme to abduct a wealthy man named Victor Kershaw, played by Tony Shalhoub, who goes to the gym where they work. The three end up pulling off the kidnapping, however things don’t go so well from there as the three are just plain stupid.
Bay lives in a cartoon world, it seems. Sometimes that can really work against him when he tries to do drama, like in “Pearl Harbor,” or even some of the scenes in the “Transformers” franchise. However, this is where it works. The film’s plot is over-the-top, unbelievable and shockingly based on a true story. Bay manages to embrace the insane, crazy true story as it fits in well with his directing style, and put out a fairly good product.
A complaint with the film is it goes on for too long. This flick runs for more than two hours and it starts to show in places. There were some parts that could have been just cut or trimmed. That being said, the film is not only humorous for its over-the-top nature, it is also quite interesting, especially when a private detective, played by Ed Harris comes into the picture.
By far, the best performance in the film comes from Johnson. Johnson brings his character to life on the big screen, having multiple funny moments that are delivered with good comedic timing. Wahlberg is alright in the picture and has good chemistry with Johnson, yet it wasn’t anything really special. When it came to Mackie’s character, it felt at times like he was just there for the ride. His performance isn’t as much that he is bad, but more overshadowed.
Harris really delivers when he comes into the movie. He is the one lone voice of sanity in the film and gives a good balance to the three “protagonists.” Shalhoub’s character, though, left something to be desired. Bay didn’t really seem to try to make Shalhoub into much of a sympathetic character, when his character is the one who the audience should be at least somewhat sympathetic towards. To make matters worse, he just gets more annoying as the movie progresses.
Rebel Wilson, who starred in last year’s “Pitch Perfect,” also appeared in the movie. She wasn’t on screen too much, but for the time she was there, her comedic experience showed.
Bay should do more films like this, because it worked. Everything that usually doesn’t fit in other Bay flicks, the unnecessary slow-mo shots and the like, seem to go with what he’s trying to do here. Bay’s style actually fits in with the lifestyle and things the lead characters do in the movie, making it work pretty well.
The movie isn’t perfect. Its run time is too long, and some of the humor can be hit or miss, and when it misses, it can really drag. But the crazy, true story seems to fit so well in the Bay universe that the film works on quite a few levels. It’s not good enough for a 4 out of 5, but does come in at a very high 3 out of 5.