Pain & Gain is a surprising movie. For starters, based on the poster and the name, it’s probably a bit misleading with regard to what you might think the film is actually about. The movie is about the true story of Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg), a bodybuilder from Miami that wants it all. The big mansions, the millions of dollars, endless women, all of it. Trouble is, he doesn’t think he should have to work to get it; he thinks he just deserves it so much, that it’s ok to take it from someone else. So, he hatches a scheme to do just that.
Directed by Michael Bay (I know, I know, this would often be a red flag but Bay’s style really lends itself well for the presentation of the movie), the film has a slick look with big sky angles, stylish editing, eye catching graphics and beautiful colors to accent the Miami landscape. Bay does a great job putting this one together from a strong script that doesn’t seem to have too many plot holes or easy cheats that you’ll often find in the storyline of some of his other films. The dialog fits each of the characters well as they tell this compelling story of the ultimate identity theft caper that goes wildly off the rails.
The talent is tight with Wahlberg turning in a great performance as the lead, he seemed to be a very natural fit for this part and beefed himself up quite a bit to prep for the role of the ‘roid-addled weightlifter. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie play Wahlberg’s lackeys and do so with a convincing delivery of stupidity without either coming off cartoonish. Tony Shalhoub plays the victim who later returns for justice and is great to watch as usual. Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson and Larry Hankin also contribute their talents.
While it isn’t the action movie you may be thinking it could be, Pain & Gain is an entertaining film with an interesting storyline, great visual delivery and a strong cast. I would suggest checking this one out.
reviewed by Sean McKnight