Michael Bay brings a steroidal farce based on a true kidnapping and murder case. It features three muscle men, who will stop at nothing in order to achieve their version of the American dream. It stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson with a budget of $25 million.
Pain & Gain takes us to the world of bodybuilders and their trainers. The screenplay is written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely based on a series of articles posted in the Miami New Times by Pete Collins.
It takes place in Miami’s Sun Gym. This is where strippers, ex-cons, and small time scam artists converge to work on their bodies. Its manager is Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg). He decides to kidnap one of his clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), who is a rich Colombian-American businessman.
To help him with the crime, Lugo recruits personal trainer Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and ex-con Paul (Dwayne Johnson), who is a recovering druggie and alcoholic who found faith during his stint in prison. After several miscues, they manage to get their man and hide him in an abandoned dry-cleaning plant. They force him to sign over all his assets to them.
Bay and his screenwriters stick to the facts but they are clearly aim to make the movie a commentary on American self-entitlement. Lugo is a dreamer who sees himself as one of life’s doers. Wahlberg manages to make the character likable and hide Lugo’s ultimate menace.
Pain & Gain doesn’t glamorize is characters or the crimes they commit. Bay keeps the movie in a constant tension from start to finish. Bay has a unique style in Hollywood. So expect super slow-mo, swooping movements, and distinctive palettes to give the movie a lavish array of visual textures. He turns Miami into a mecca of sin.
This is a guy movie and women are reduced to sex objects and surfaces for snorting coke. Rebel Wilson manages to steal the spotlight in several scenes as Adrian’s clueless girlfriend.