A trio of bodybuilders in Miami get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong. (IMDB)
Writers: Christopher Markus ,Stephen McFeely
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie
Run time/Rating 129 Minutes/ R
Popcorn Score: Medium Popcorn
More often than not when people ask about a movie, they want to know if it “Is any good”. The “Yes” or “No” answer to that question usually suffices for most people looking to spend a buck twenty on a 1-night Redbox rental. When it comes to that basic question for Pain and Gain, the new Michael Bay release staring Marc Walberg, Duane Johnson and Anthony Mackie, after much contemplation and the turning of the critical eyes the other way, I suppose the answer is yes.
The story which is loosely based on real events from the 90’s follows the follies of 3 muscle-bound trainers from a Miami Gym who abduct and rob a wealthy gym member of all his possessions. It has an interesting enough dramatic storyline involving real crime and death that is made fun and light enough with dark comedy sprinkled in throughout. Although I don’t by any means praise how this movie was made, it was a better choice to not take itself too seriously.
Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) is the ring leader of the group and he convinces a young follower named Adrian Doorbal (Mackie) and new hire fresh out of prison, Paul Doyle (The Rock) to take part in the mission. To say these guys are the Three Stooges of abduction and crime gives the actors and the comedic writing of movie too much credit, but they are buffoons at what they are trying to do. After an unsuccessful attempt or two to kidnap the wealthy gym member named Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) they finally get the guy and tie him up in a sex toy warehouse. This is one example of the type of launching pad that the movie often used for comedy. The three meatheads torture the poor man but remain mostly foolish enough to stay in a friendly basis with the audience. They also villainies the old man by hinting at a past in crime which, I suppose, makes us not feel so bad for him.
After weeks of torture and finally a successful attempt to acquire Kershaw’s assets the team of crooks leaves him to die. Not surprisingly, they didn’t complete the mission and Kershaw makes his way to hospital to plead his story to Miami police. Enter the most careless team of detectives in movie history and Kershaw quickly call on the services of Private I (Ed Harris) to track down these guys.
All in all, the entire movie clips along at a good enough speed to remain enjoyable. There are secondary storylines that fall flat; The Rock’s drug recovery and relapse problems, aspects that take too long and just don’t need to be in there, and many jokes come off as eye rollers, but director Michael Bay has just enough charm with this one to keep the story fun enough and fast enough. Compared to his recent failed blockbusters this is actually quite good. On the other hand when Wahlberg’s career is all done, even accounting for some of his questionable choices in the past, this one will be at the low to mid-range of his catalog at best.