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Movie Review – Pain and Gain

Pain & Gain is a movie so crazy, so out there, so “Michael Bay” that it’s hard to even think that the events in front of you really took place. It’s even harder to rationalize that three body builders from Miami in 1994 staged a staggering heist that netted them wealth beyond their dreams. Pain & Gain is a look into the have’s and have-not’s and don’t let the comedy fool you as these were bad men that did bad things to get where they got. And by the end, when the credits show the actor’s images next to the images of the actual people they portrayed, you realize that this did happen and that real people got hurt and killed between October 1994 and June 1995.

Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo, a personal trainer at Sun Gym located in Miami, Florida. He has big dreams and wants more and feels that the universe owes it to him. He concocts a plan with co-worker Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and fellow gym-nut Paul Doyle (Dwayne”The Rock” Johnson) to steal the wealth of businessman Victor Pepe Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) whom also happens to be a client of his at the gym. Needless to say these three are not the best at executing a crime and it’s this comedy of errors that drive the plot of Pain & Gain.


Grade: 4 out of 5 stars

I’m a Michael Bay fan! I like The Rock, both Bad Boys, and all three of the Transformers movies (don’t be hate’n me). His style of action and comedy are blended nicely in Pain & Gain. We get a movie that has all the signature elements that make up a Michael Bay film – slow motion, comedy, action, and the 360-degree two room shot. We also get a movie that is told through various points of view via voice overs yet stays linear in plot and action so as not to take you out of the moment. The main POV is through the eys of Lugo, Doorbal, and Doyle and how their actions give them the high and eventually the low of life. And that is where the comedy comes from as well.

Let’s not gloss over the fact that this did happen, what they did is a true story and as funny and comical as it is to us, these three committed a LOT of crimes. But the execution of their story in this medium was amazing and really managed to bring to life the 1999 Miami News Times articles that the script was written from. On the Howard Stern Radio Show last week, Wahlberg mentioned that there were events that happened that were so “out there” that Bay cut them from the script/movie because he was afraid that the the audience wouldn’t believe that it really happened. Bay plays up to this as he even has a notice that pops up at one time on the screen toward the end of the movie reminding people that “this is still a true story”.

The acting and casting was top notch. Wahlberg can lead a movie and I can see why he was cast for the next installment of the Transformers franchise. His depiction of Daniel Lugo is a role that allows his comedy and action chops to come out and something we’ll see again later this summer when Two Guns is released. Mackie plays the sidekick role to the T yet manages to show that he can handle comedy and action. When he is paired with either The Rock or Rebel Wilson (who by the way is becoming a major box office star on her own, don’t be shocked if she’s in a lot more over the course of the next two years) their scenes shine and you get the most laughs during these times. But let’s not take away from The Rock (it is soooo hard for me to not call Dwayne Johnson by this name) as he steals the movie playing a recently released convict who has found Jesus/religion and wants to stay on the straight and narrow and never fall back into the world of drugs and alcoholism. Sounds heavy but it’s his scenes that really demonstrate what I’ve said for a while now – this guy can act and play any part given to him – action, comedy, drama. And it was great seeing Ed Harris back on the screen as retired Detective/P.I. Ed DuBois who is the one that cracks the case and assists the Miami-Dade Police Department in arresting the trio. Harris may be getting older but he still commands respect on the screen and his performance shows that.

Pain & Gain is rated R for a reason – nudity, adult language, drugs and alcohol use, and extreme acts of violence. And I liked it!! And you’ll like it to! So get out there and go see Pain & Gain this weekend. You can thank me later.

Letter to Michael Bay: After seeing Pain & Gain, I have one request for Michael Bay – PLEASE, and I mean PLEASE, do a third Bad Boys movie! Bay has a way of using color and Miami that works (don’t know how else to say this) and his action/comedy timing works as well. You can keep that franchise going while bringing new blood onto the screen. Use The Rock and Anthony Mackie as your two main officers taking over for Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. You can then bump Lawrence’s Marcus Burnett to Captain and give Joe Pantoliano’s Captain Howard a promotion. Call me and I’ll help you with the script.

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