When one thinks of Michael Bay they usually think of explosions and more recently robots. Here in this film Bay goes for something a little different and way more darker. Set in 1994/95 we follow Daniel Lugo(Mark Wahlberg) who is a body builder who works in a gym but wants more, cash, a large home and a fancy lawn mower. He brings in two other body builders and makes a plan that involves torture and making a man hand over everything he owns. That man is Victor Kershaw(Tony Shalhoub) and the three men get a taste of what taking what you want and doing whatever you can for the American way can be like going down an bunny hole.
This is a weird movie, just understand that going in, the trailers and commercials almost try to make Daniel Lugo look like some sort of good guy. Make no mistake we do follow him and his buddies most of the movie but at no point does the movie treat this guy like some sort of hero. The odd choice though is that Victor Kershaw and the people Lugo go after are not exactly heart warming people. What makes the movie work are the performances, Mark Wahlberg continues to impress me and here he doesn’t hold back. The stand out performance though comes from Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson plays a large, heavy religious mess of a man. Every scene he’s in he dominates.
What stands out to me in this movie is Michael Bay seems to pull away from what he’s used to, his style is all there, slow motion shots, tints and everything are still there. What I really mean is he tries to make everything look perfect. Here he makes Miami look rather disgusting and a mess. Usually his films are filled with shiny things and half naked women, yet the movie seems to make fun of a world with men lusting for these things. It’s hands down Bay’s most interesting movie to date since he actually took chances.
Now don’t get into this film expecting a laugh riot, most of the actual jokes are forced, many are side bits from minor characters. The film is very dark, the violence isn’t action movie violence, it’s gritty torture violence. There are some minor shoots outs at the end that make no sense, it seems in Michael Bay’s world cops will just shoot at anything at any time. What makes this interesting is that this was a true story, I’m sure liberties were taken to complete the film.
The strongest part of the film really comes from Ed Harris who plays a retired personal investigator that starts putting the pieces together to track Lugo and his buddies down. Unlike everyone else he isn’t playing things over the top, so I feel like the audience connected with him that way easily.
This isn’t Bay’s best work which I still believe is “The Rock” and secondly “The Island” even though the second half of the film is terrible that film is still strong. Pain and Gain might not be a film you check out in theaters but if you’re interested check it out for rent. Just prepare yourself the film is dark and not a good time in anyway you might be expecting, it’s a story about how greed can destroy anyone no matter how many muscles you have.