HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Pain & Gain Survival of the fittest
Year: 2013
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Michael Rispoli, Keili Lefkovitz, Emily Rutherford, Larry Hankin, Tony Plana, Peter Stormare, Vivi Pineda, Ken Clement, Brian Stepanek
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 3 votes)
Review: Florida-based fitness trainer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) has a buff body but can’t get the cash he needs to realise his dreams. Driven to extremes, Daniel hatches an insane kidnap-and-extortion scheme recruiting brain-dead bodybuilders Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) to target one of his wealthy gym clients, obnoxious entrepreneur Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Needless to say, things go horribly wrong.

Based on a ghastly true story documented by Miami journalist Pete Collins in a series of articles and his like-named book, Pain & Gain might have drawn a better reception from critics had it been made by any filmmaker other than the bête-noire of serious cineastes, Michael Bay. A man whose name has become synonymous with a crash-bang-wallop style of blockbuster filmmaking despised by critics but adored by fourteen year old kids and, let’s face it, more than a few less discerning grownups the world over. Yet viewed in retrospect, hiring Bay to direct this steroid-amped satire of the American Dream was a stroke in genius. His bombastic, hyper-fetishistic style envisions exactly the kind of perverse action-fantasy the real-life ’roid-addled protagonists probably imagined for themselves. Daniel Lugo and Paul Doyle inhabit the twisted flip side of a Michael Bay movie, with all that that entails: buff heroes, bodacious babes, a mile-a-minute pace and big, improbable set-pieces - all the more astounding in this instance because, as the opening narration informs us “unfortunately, this is based on a true story.”

Set in 1995, the year of Bay’s Bad Boys, the film adapts body-building and the obsession with bigger is better into a metaphor for American capitalism gone mad. Co-written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley, the duo interestingly behind Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), the script lambasts the lunkheaded, greed-is-good-on-steroids philosophy eating America from the inside, as embodied in the character of maniacal motivational speaker Johnny Woo (Ken Jeong, of The Hangover (2008) and sublime sitcom Community) whose absurd mantra (“Don’t be a don’t-er, be a do-er!”), Daniel adopts as his own. The film drew its fair share of criticism in the US, not least from relatives of the real victims, for a perceived attempt to paint the perpetrators of a heinous crime in a semi-sympathetic light. But none of the characters, including the victims, emerge as sympathetic even though Markus, McFeeley and, yes, Bay succeed in making them compelling.

The film is perfectly cast with stars Wahlberg and Johnson subverting their established screen personas. Wahlberg’s boyish charm makes Daniel Lugo an almost pitiable figure that brings to mind Oliver Hardy’s famous description of his own comic persona as a dumb guy all the dumber for actually believing himself smart. Johnson is a revelation as the deluded born again Christian-cum-closet psychotic whose antics seem off-the-wall even before he gets hooked on cocaine. No Michael Bay movie would be complete without a scene-stealing turn from a pneumatic starlet. Israeli supermodel Bar Paly injects some serious va-va-voom yet also displays solid comic charisma in the role of the Eurotrash Barbie-like stripper whom Daniel easily dupes into serving as the honey trap in his ingenious scheme. Elsewhere, Bay relishes an array of absurd supporting turns including Rebel Wilson as a nunchaku wielding nympho nurse. She proves the surprise love interest for Adrian, whose preoccupation with his steroid-shrunk genitals yields further cheap laughs.

Coming across like a Three Stooges movie penned by Elmore Leonard, the meandering narrative gets a little clunky in parts which is more due to Bay’s fondness for eye-catching digressions than the solid script. But just when the viewer feels ready to jump ship, Bay reels you back in with another outrageous plot twist. Things get so outrageous in fact that towards the finale, the film actually throws up a title card insisting “this is still a true story.” The frantic failed kidnap attempts are flat-out hilarious including one staged like a parody of a bad Cannon ninja movie from the Eighties, but Bay’s peculiar preoccupation with gay sex toys adds a faint though still unwelcome note of homophobia.

It is a scattershot satire, less than subtle and routinely crass but, hey, that’s Bay. More importantly for once the hyberbolic tone befits the subject matter. Plus, you can’t help but relish one laugh out loud moment where, in the midst of a failed robbery and accidental multiple murder, Daniel takes time out to clear his head and pump some iron.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4412 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (4)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: