Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Pain & Gain’ Review: Not a Favorite Michael Bay Flick

I want to be clear from the get-go here. I’m a Michael Bay fan and I’m proud to say it. Armageddon, Transformers, The Rock and Pearl Harbor are all good, entertaining films, and the action-packed director doesn’t deserve a lot of the hate he gets from critics. In fact, I think Armageddon is in the top 5 most played movies on cable TV. Good for you Michael Bay.

With that said, I now I have to say that Pain & Gain might be my least favorite of Bay’s movies. It’s not that it was poorly directed, its not that the talent wasn’t fantastic in the beefy roles, its that fact that I’m not sure the subject matter was as funny in real life as it was written in the screenplay.

Also, its important to note near the beginning of this review, comedic actress Rebel Wilson makes any movie better. She’s fantastic as Anthony Mackie’s wife in the movie.

Pain & Gain is based on the insane true story of three men Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlnerg), Paul Doyle (The Rock) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) who attempt to live the American dream in 1990s Miami. Daniel is a personal trainer and with the advice of a self-help guide (Ken Jeong) he figures out a plan to gain a lot of money quickly without having to do any work to earn it. The plan involves kidnapping and a lot of illegal stuff that eventually puts the trio in a violent frenzy.

When I say violent, I mean violent, disgusting and unthinkable things happen in this story that are hard to believe happened in real life. We’re talking about Kill Bill violent here, only this is based on a true story, so be prepared if you’re going to take your kid to this movie thinking it’s “just an action film.”

The Rock gives the most surprising performance of his career as Paul Doyle. Between the hilarious lines of dialogue (and coke) he says in this film, its clear The Rock had a blast playing this character and completely dove into the subject matter. This is the wrestling star’s third movie released in 2013 (with Snitch and G.I. Joe: Retaliation) and it’s definitely his most memorable performance of the year… so far. We can expect to see the muscleman in the sixth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, due May 24, 2013.

Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain certainly deserves another viewing or two and call me crazy, but I’d rather watch his action-spectacle films over this one any day. Oddly enough after I finished writing this review, I’m now in the mood to watch Transformers. Hmm maybe Pain & Gain had a purpose after all?

Wait to rent the Blu-ray of Pain & Gain over watching it in the theatre; you might like it enough for a Saturday afternoon viewing party.

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