Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pain & Gain (2013)

**This review contains spoilers**

In 1990’s South Florida, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a bodybuilder, who’s tired of being a nobody. Broke, and working a dead end job as a fitness trainer at the Sun Gym, Daniel convinces his steroid junkie friend, Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) to pull off a kidnapping that will solve all of their problems. Daniel is motivated by Johnny Wu’s (Ken Jeong) seminar, and Wu’s pep talk as a motivational speaker gives Daniel the extra push he was looking for. After recruiting Paul Doyle (The Rock), a born-again Christian, who’s fresh out of jail, Daniel puts together the perfect plan. Daniel, Paul, and Adrian kidnap Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a “self-made” millionaire and one of Paul’s clients at the Sun Gym.

After days of torture and beatings, Victor finally signs over all of his assets to Daniel and his gang. And  Daniel receives some help from his boss, John (Rob Corddry), who has the license to notarize all the paperwork. Daniel moves into Victor’s house. Adrian marries Ramona (Rebel Wilson), the one woman, who stood by him during his erectile dysfunction problems, and Adrian uses his share of the money to buy a new house. Paul is consumed by the fast life with his stripper girlfriend, Sorina (Bar Paly), while developing an addiction to cocaine.

As the Sun Gym Gang burns through their money, Daniel is influenced by Paul to pull off another heist. Meanwhile, Victor survives a botched murder by the gang, and hires a private investigator named Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris) to bring down Daniel and his crew. Paul and Adrian are running low on money, so Daniel plans another job to clean out a wealthy porn director/producer. But Ed is ready to point the police in the right direction, and Paul’s failed robbery of an armored car brings more heat to the gang.

Well, the main cast of characters are supposed to be meatheads, but The Rock delivers the most entertaining performance for my money. Paul is really the only guy, who steps out of the “tough guy” zone, and Johnson shows a goofy, sensitive side. During the cocaine addiction, Rock turns into a paranoid emotional trainwreck, and he brought a few laughs out of me, as the religious loony. Wahlberg is believable as an obsessive jock, but Anthony Mackie’s character annoyed me. Not because of his performance, but a lame running gag about ED is attached to Mackie’s character, and it’s not funny after the first three or four penis jokes. Shalhoub oozes sleaziness, Ed Harris is always a perfect fit for the old veteran, and Bar Paly is just eye candy. I mean, technically Paly has a character, as the ditzy airhead, but she can’t act. Rebel Wilson has found a niche, as a subtle and shrewd chunky woman, and next to Rock, she gets my pick for the second most entertaining performance. Also, I’m pretty sure I spotted Kurt Angle during a prison fight in one of Paul’s flashbacks.

Michael Bay’s high octane and clumsy directing style might give you a seizure or a really bad headache after you’re done with one of his movies. I guess you can give Bay some credit for toning it down on the explosions (unless I’m missing something, I only counted one), but as usual, there’s nothing truly memorable about Bay’s work behind the camera here. More violence and blood than your usual Bay flick, but it’s nothing too extreme. It’s nothing that’ll make you squirm, or say “wow! Bay is trying to do something different!” No. And Bay’s constant use of slow motion is kind of annoying.

Pain & Gain wants to be an in-your-face black comedy, and a colorful from rags to riches story, but I was ready to leave after twenty minutes. The humor loses steam fast, and the through the motions story is too predictable and mundane. Maybe, just MAYBE if they took a more serious approach, Pain & Gain could’ve been a respectable docudrama……with a better director of course. But I was burnt out on the goofiness and macho “I HAVE BIG MUSCLES!” routine before Pain & Gain reached the third act. Lots of T&A throughout Pain & Gain, and I chuckled a few times, but the movie as a whole is just a massive failure, and the two hours and nine minutes runtime felt like an eternity.    

Final Rating: 2/10

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