“Truth is stranger than fiction.” This phrase is uttered by Ed DuBois (Ed Harris) and the movie reminds us about two-thirds of the way through that is is a true story. In fact, the screen pauses and a big title card reads “This is still a true story.” This true story is the tale of protein, dumb criminals, and breast implants.
Aspiring for the American Dream, bodybuilder and personal trainer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) enlists the help of fellow meat-heads Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) for his “three-finger” plan: 1. First some rich guy, 2. Kidnap him and take him for all he's worth, 3. make America a better place. The rich guy in question is Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub), a client of Lugo’s who is one of those people who--shall we say--is crossing the street, someone in their car may or may not choose to hit the brakes. The man was despised by everyone so much, that no one reported him missing giving Lugo and the boys an entire month to torture him into signing over any and all asessts. Again, a story so unvbelievable it has to be true.
As is Pain & Gain being a Michael Bay film. Bodybuilders, kidnaps, Michael Bay, and Miami would seem to make a (great?) combination for a summer tent-pole. But, alas! The meager budget of $26,000,000 (compared to the $195,000,000 budget of Transformers: Dark of the Moon) helps restrain his usual modus operandi of blowing everything up in a destructo-porn extravaganza. For those concerned, there are explosions and bullets flying, but the bulk of its over 120 minute runtime is filled with belly laughs from three actors who have a sense of humor and--more importantly--have fun together. Why Michael Bay chose this project is a mystery, but it proves that all Michael Bay needs to have some restraint. Action classics like Bad Boys and The Rock live on and excite people 17 and 18 years later, respectively. On the other hand, time has been rather cruel to movie like Armageddon, Pearl Harbor, and The Island even they had a leg to stand on in the first place. The difference between the group was how much cash the studio were tossing at Michael Bay. Who knows? Maybe he choose it as some sort of cathartic exercise for his bloated films: a story of three guys with ever-bulking muscles who craft there own demise. Or maybe I’m just reading a bit to into it. Either way, Pain & Gain is a comedy first and foremost, and it (surprisingly) delivers.
Pain & Gain is currently available for purchase on Amazon Instant and iTunes. It will be released on DVD & Blu-Ray August 27th.