By John Delia
Apr 25, 2013 03:29 PM EST

Pain & Gain Theatrical Review

Pain and Gain Is A dark comedic look at extortion gone bad.
Pain & Gain Theatrical Review
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Continuing to make exciting films Michael Bay releases Pain & Gain a movie that's reminiscent of his storytelling with the wild and enthusiastic Bad Boys, but far from his explosive films like Transformers and Armageddon. Here he takes you on a rollercoaster ride with a true crime story, a dark comedy that gets so absurd I found myself questioning whether the three main characters saw too many movies and thought that even the fictional ones were reality. It's totally unbelievable, but in today's world I guess most anything can happen.
It's 1994 and body builder Danny Lugo sees himself as a rising star in the business of personal training.  After doing some time for a white collar crime he heads for Florida and he finally gets a chance at the big time getting hired at the Sun Gym in Miami.  Here he's not in his true element of working with the babes since most of his clients are old, but they are rich and that's a plus. After realizing that the money he's making just doesn't cut it with his lifestyle he comes up with a plan of kidnapping Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) a boastful wealthy client from Columbia.
He approaches his friend Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and tells him about his plan to take all of Kershaw's wealth in a scam that involves extorting the Columbian to turn over his bank accounts, cars and house.  Not too bright when it comes to how this will affect his life if they get caught, Adrian agrees to the crime.  After some time planning how they will kidnap the man, hold him in a remote location and get him to sign over his property Danny realizes he'll need another accomplice.  At the gym where he works he meets Paul Doyle (Dwyane Johnson) who has just been released from Attica Prison.  Although at first he doesn't want to join the guys, Paul soon finds out that without money it's hard to live in fast world of sunny Miami.  When the trio finally carries out the plan however, anything that can go wrong happens in the extreme. 
Mark Wahlberg gives one of his best performances to date with a characterization of the wily Danny Lugo.  While he does portray the man as a buffoon in real life Lugo was quite savvy as outlined in an article that ran in the Miami New Times weekly newspaper.  Still it's due to Lugo's ego that he ran amok with his scheme to walk off with millions even if it meant killing one of his targets. Wahlberg buffs up for the part and looks like a million dollar playboy at times.  His swagger and fast talk woos the women attendants at the gym and he's loved by the local strippers who walk off with some of his fast money.  I love this character with Wahlberg playing it as homage to Miami South Beach gigolos and club dwellers.  .
Although Anthony Mackie doesn't really look as fierce as the crazy real life Adrian Doorbal, he still makes his character a typical partner of a Danny Lugo, a chump, quick tempered and brainless at times.  His Adrian follows Lugo around like a dog on a chain doing his bidding because it makes him feel like a winner.  Dwayne Johnson plays Paul Doyle, third in their terrible trio.  He's a made-up character and some say part of which is the real Jorge Delgado an associate of Danny Lugo who puts him on to the Columbian millionaire (here named Victor Kershaw, but in real life Marc Schiller) that he extorts.  Johnson does more of a Tooth Fairy kind of performance making Doyle the silly member who becomes Lugo's strong arm problem solver.  Most of the comedy comes with Doyle's errors and miscues during the crimes and his relationship with a stripper.
The movie gets real wacky as it plays out and Michael Bay keeps it that way till the very end.  His characters are very South Beach and having lived in South Florida I could pick out their clones as they walk along Collins Ave or Ocean Drive.  Having a home in South Florida director Bay is right there were the entire action takes place and making his characters part of it must have been second nature.
Pain & Gain has been rated R by the MPAA for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use.  The movie makes light of the characters as bungling fools so most of the carnage has comical innuendo.  The drug use gets a lot of screen time with Doyle having a ‘white mustache' in many scenes throughout the film.
FINAL ANALYSIS: A dark comedic look at extortion gone bad. (B)        

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MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 120 minutes
Distributed By: Paramount Pictures

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