PAIN & GAIN
This mini-Bay film is pure Bay. This is a film based on a true story. But – you probably won’t believe a word of it, because it seems utterly insane. That’s kinda why I believe in it.
This past week as I listened live to the Watertown Police scanner as the Alleged Boston Bombers were throwing bombs and exchanging weapons fire with the police… as details of a 7-11 robbery, an execution of a police officer in his car and a car-jacking all started spiraling into one scary and amazing to follow night. It seemed like I was following an episode of 24 live.
PAIN & GAIN is first and foremost a real good time. Mark Wahlberg is playing Daniel Lugo, who as portrayed by Wahlberg is a con-man come personal trainer at a bodybuilding gym – and like a certain bright shining star that he played in BOOGIE NIGHTS, you can’t help but like the guy. He’s a real scumbag. He uses his friendship as a gateway to controlling those around him. But he has a very real desperate NEED to become rich and famous. He believes it is his destiny, and that it is a manifest destiny that he’s going to will into existence. But he chooses the quick & easy path which we all know leads to the Dark Side.
With him on this really quite terrible series of crimes are his gym buddies. First we meet Anthony Mackie’s Adrian Doorbal, who is having some penis performance issues due to his steroid abuse, something that the gym seems to encourage. Mackie is open to Wahlberg’s charismatic monologues about how they need the money to match their amazing bodies.
Then when ex-con ex-cokehead and born again mountain of muscle named Paul Doyle shows up at Sun Gym in the form of Dwayne Johnson, the movie takes off. Right now, The Rock is an amazing actor to watch on camera. The lights in his eyes are fully engaged and the charisma is scary! He plays a man that is deeply sorry for his past transgressions, but in addition to being an ex-con, he has just simply joined the wrong gym. Mark’s Lugo makes Doyle as being the perfect muscle for his master plan.
OH – did I mention that all 3 of these guys are clueless?
They are. Hysterically and Sadly so. In all liklihood, the first time you’ll see this movie you’re going to be laughing quite a bit, this is the Hard R rated Michael Bay. The mountains of CG are gone and he’s got these meatheads that are shooting for the moon, believing they’re invincible, untouchable… But they’re all deluded.
In reality – this is a case that resulted in men on Death Row – and they’re still there right now. This is a crime case involving the torture and extortion and attempted homicide of one man – as well the murder and dismemberment of a couple. All of whom were involved in legal success stories. To these characters, they seem immoral, but really, they’re just living the Miami Dream. Until attacked by meatheads.
The natural charisma of Anthony Mackie, Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson is pretty amazing. But Bay surrounds them with great fun actors.
Tony Shalhoub plays Victor Kershaw, who the 3 victimize first. Shalhoub is so awesome in the film. He’s great in everything, but here… you see how he likes to be impressive to his trainer. For the past couple years I’ve been working with my trainer – and you really do form a bond with a good trainer. I’m instantly suspicious of mine now… thanks to Bay, but really – we just laugh about it. But here, the laughs stop – and as Shalhoub’s character begins to realize the gravity of the situation, he begins to try to befriend The Rock’s Paul Doyle character. It seems to be working, but really, Daniel Lugo is in control, kinda. But when you see how they try to kill Victor – it is pure THREE STOOGES insanity.
I don’t want to give away the second half of the film, but you’re gonna love Ed Harris’ detective.
This is the best film Michael Bay has made since BAD BOYS II. And it is a rollicking obscenely crazed time. At one moment – you’ll see Dwayne Johnson grilling something – and the tag, “THIS IS STILL A TRUE STORY” shows up in the lower right hand side of the screen – and I laughed loud. The image you’re seeing… it just fries the brain. You are thinking, “This can’t be real!” when a sign pops up confirming that yes, even this is true.
This is a so strange it could be true kind of story. Bay’s film is a high energy entertaining true crime tale told by a director – that is obsessed with the image. Bay makes these characters delusion seem real by the world he places them in. I think he captures the male machismo bonding that compels men to do some really stupid shit that ruins not only their lives, but the lives of their victims – and… just adding to the general paranoia of modern society.
I don’t see Bay as making these guys anti-heroes – I think Bay thinks these guys were the dumbest fucks to ever do a squat. If the film has a great fault – it’s in how he portrays the final victims – but I hold that Bay is showing them as the criminals saw them. Thus making it easy for them to feel morally superior – which leads them to do what they do.
That’s not nice for the victims, but it does put us in the headspace of the dumb bastards that are now sitting on Death Row.
Go see this one with some friends that like to see crazy shit go down. This is the craziest shit I’ve seen in a while – and exactly what I love most from Michael Bay. This is one of his really good ones!