Mark Wahlberg is Daniel Lugo, a bodybuilder and fitness trainer who, inspired by little more than movies, brings together two equally dimwitted friends in a bid to attain his American Dream. How? By kidnapping a man and stealing all of his money.
But even such a plan proves too much for them, and everything goes from bad to much worse…
If a Michael Bay movie could ever conceivably have actual subtext and actual compelling weight to it (no pun intended) Pain and Gain is as close as we have ever gotten! Based off a true story, yes, a genuine true story, Pain and Gain is one of those black comedies that provides exactly what it intends to give.
Mark Wahlberg and company are completely harebrained, though not in a particularly goofy, cartoonish way but in a manner that all good black comedies can show; a clueless, cringeworthy obliviousness. An ignorance of real life and the consequences that their “simple” plans have.
For the all-American / America-is-Great director, this film actually sings a different tune. While yes, these garish characters are often shown in glamorous success, by the film’s end we are given an honest truth; that many people are actually this ignorant, that people don’t appreciate what they have and (deliberate or not) ruin other people’s lives rather than work hard for their goals.
Of course, that’s looking deep. On the surface Pain and Gain is a gaudy movie about morons attempting to commit crimes without knowing how, and living the high life without any morals. There are flashy cars, drugs, torture, strippers (correction: lots of strippers) and plenty of men who care more about their pectoral muscles than any of those things!
Sounds a little divided, but honestly this film surprised me, and a lot of that is to do with its sense of humour. This is higher grade humour than say… Transformers humour. In fact it feels like low rent Tarantino humour. Dwayne Johnson has never been better. He plays a born again Christian, a man who is attempting to redeem himself but gets roped into Wahlberg’s scheme instead. He is a buffoon, a huge, towering buffoon and he completely steals the show with his backseat comments and wide-eyed doubt. Seriously, even if you don’t like him as an actor, this film may well convert you.
A black comedy of fine quality, quite possibly Bay’s best film (whatever that means to some of you) While it is brash and uncouth because that’s exactly what it should be, I’d recommend it.