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Film Review: “Pain and Gain”

Written by: josh | April 24th, 2013

Michael Bay may know how to make a lot of money, but he sure as hell doesn’t know how to make a good movie.  Pain and Gain is shallow, empty, unoriginal, and scattered.  Many people were thinking that this would be a different kind of Michael Bay film and it wouldn’t be his typical action films filled with mindless explosions and CGI.  While Pain and Gain isn’t a large-scale action film, it definitely follows the Michael Bay checklist (more on that later).  So if you’re looking for something different, something fun, or even something funny, you won’t find it in this movie.


   Pain and Gain stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as three body builders who want more out of their life.  All of them are behind on rent and bills but instead of trying to get an education, they are more obsessed with their physical image.  Mark Wahlberg’s character, Daniel Lugo, has an extremely rich client, Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub), at his gym who as Lugo puts it, “Is a criminal prick who doesn’t deserve the money that he has.”  Lugo decides to come up with a scheme to kidnap Kershaw and have him sign over everything that he owns to the three body builders by torturing him.


The Michael Bay checklist is a list of things that you need to have in a Michael Bay film.  It’s essentially what makes his films all fluff and no substance.  Let’s go through the list for Pain and Gain shall we: Are there homophobic jokes or any other types of crude humor?  Check.  Are there any slow motion shots?  Check.  Is there an explosion?  Check.  Are there large breasted women who are models instead of actresses?  Check.  Is there a shot of a flowing American flag?  Check.  As stated before, even though Pain and Gain is technically a different genre than most Michael Bay films, it is still definitely a Michael Bay film.


The main problem with Pain and Gain besides that it’s extremely shallow, is that every character is unlikable.  The audience has no one to root for or connect with in this film.  Victor Kershaw is rude, racist, and doesn’t deserve his money but the gang of muscle bound freaks who rob him don’t deserve the money either.  They’re all incredibly dumb and the only thing they work at in life is fitness.  So who do you root for?  The antagonist or the lazy protagonists?  When you don’t like any of the characters, you don’t care what happens and if you don’t care, then it’s not worth watching.  The only redeeming quality of this movie is Dwayne Johnson.  You’d think it would be Mark Wahlberg but Wahlberg’s ego gets in the way of the plot and ends up being extremely annoying.  Johnson has shown that he can carry a movie.  Though I still didn’t care what happened to his character, he was the only one that tried to make me care.


   Pain and Gain is stuffed with so many genres that it feels bloated.  If it’s a comedy, it is the lowest form of comedy.  All of the jokes are either homophobic or racist or the joke is on someone’s size or appearance.  The entire joke of the film is how dumb the characters are and that it’s based on true events.  So if you’re trying to make a comedy based on idiotic actions, then go full comedy and don’t try to make the audience relate to the characters.  If this film is an action movie, then there isn’t enough action and if it’s a drama, then the action and comedy take away the seriousness of the film.  It’s as if Michael Bay took everything he loved and shoved it into a blender and made one sloppy movie.  Pain and Gain completely dumbs down to its audience and I find that insulting.  Skip this movie.  Michael Bay has enough money.

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