Pain & Gain is based on a true story of a gang of bodybuilders who kidnapped a rich client and tortured him until he signed over his house, businesses and savings to them. And it is directed by Michael Bay.
This movie was made on a fraction of the money he spent making any of those Transformers movies. But that doesn’t really mean that Pain & Gain is some sort of arthouse classic.
Oh no, not at all.
See Mr. Bay still manages to use all the slow motion, gratuitous violence, and even profanity in this movie because it is R-rated. What I said in the first paragraph is pretty much a summation of what happens throughout the movie’s two-hours-plus running time.
It is a tale of greed mixing with a significant lack of intelligence upon the part of the criminals to cook up a scheme so far fetched it almost makes Mr. Bay’s bigger budget Explodaramas seem logical.
Mark Wahlberg gets to let his freak flag fly as the leader of the pack and Anthony Mackie turns in a low key performance as the dumbest member of the gang. But Dwayne Johnson as the coke-snorting, born-again Christian Paul Doyle is the one who really turns in a stellar performance in this movie. He does conflicted, terrified, and tender, really well for a guy who bulked up to nearly 300 pounds in preparation for this role. His is a performance to watch in this movie.
This is not a fun time at the movies by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. Saying it is based on true events may highlight how crazy people can get in the pursuit of what they believe they ‘deserve’ but it is not always pretty to watch. This may be Mr. Bay’s most honest movie, and I’m not sure we are ready for that level of honesty from the man.
Final Analysis: Sure this is a lower budget movie than Michael Bay has become used to making in recent years. But it isn’t any sort of departure from his loud flashy style.
My Advice: Unless marveling at the dubious career choices of a trio of muscle-heads in mid-90s Miami is somehow your thing, I don’t know how you could really enjoy this movie. Because it goes to some pret-ty weird places.