Pain & Gain might have its moments but the characters are mostly unlikeable and even acknowledging the substance of the plot, it’s not enough to recommend even though Mark Wahlberg is quite good in his role.
Genre(s): Crime, Drama, Comedy
Paramount | R – 129 min. – $39.99 | December 3, 2013
Directed by: Michael Bay
Writer(s): Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (screenplay)
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson
Theatrical Release Date: April 26, 2013
Features: Featurettes, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish
Disc Size: 42.4 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
There seems to be two sides to Michael Bay: the blockbuster one we all know and debate and then there’s the one who directs the smaller budget, perhaps personal projects and his latest, Pain & Gain tells an interesting story based on actual events with your normal amount of Hollywood BS thrown to tell a more dramatic narrative. On the one hand, I have to respect what Bay attempted to do but on the other cringe at the liberties taken, in particular changing a character who was an innocent victim into somebody just a smidge above our already lowly main characters.
The plot involves fitness instructor Daniel Lugo (MARK WAHLBERG) desperate to obtain the American dream but decides to take a shortcut. With the help of fellow fitness freaks Adrian Doorbal (ANTHONY MACKIE) and dumbbell Paul Doyle (DWAYNE JOHNSON) to kidnap rich guy, after a failed first attempt, and all around douche bag Victor Kershaw (TONY SHALHOUB), hold him for ransom and reap the rewards.
When they gain control of Kershaw’s massive assets, rather than letting him go as promised, Lugo instead believes he needs to die so they first force him to drink alcohol, crash his BMW but Kershaw doesn’t die so Lugo sets fire to the car and yet again, Kershaw survives so hoping to finish the job, they run him over with their car. Believing him to be dead, the so-called “Sun Gym Gang” leave the scene but Kershaw just won’t die and he makes it to a hospital. However, with the police not believing his story, Kershaw hires private detective Ed Du Bois III (ED HARRIS) to find the perps, but not before the “Sun Gym Gang” return to the hospital to finish the job, yet once again fail. Now Du Bois is on the case and tails the gang.
Meanwhile, as most stupid common criminals tend to do, Doorbal and Doyle quickly run out of money with Doyle attempting a failed armored car robbery which resulting in Doyle shooting his toe off. Yep, as you can tell, these are all geniuses. So, with two out of the three out of dough, with Doorbel getting married, they propose another kidnapping, this time of Frank Griga (MICHAEL RISPOLI), owner of a phone sex operation. But Griga gets on Lugo’s bad side and kills him and getting the necessary codes from Griga’s girlfriend is fruitless and she in turn is accidentally overdosed with horse tranquilizers. Oops.
So Du Bois is hot on their trail but it’s not really hard to catch them given how bumbling these idiots really are though hardly complete morons since the gang, and Lugo in particular, buys equipment to chop up the two victims. Not exactly people you want to cross even if they could easily be tracked and captured.
The cast, despite their low-life characters, are all well done headlined by Mark Wahlberg followed by Dwayne Johnson attempting something new and Anthony Mackie who by comparison doesn’t have as much meat yet still has some good scenes especially in the third act. Tony Shalhoub for his part is nice to see again on the big screen and, of course, Ed Harris is legendary and although any character development takes a backburner to the others, utilizes the most he can with the limited screen time.
Pain & Gain wasn’t my kind of movie for many reasons, one being I had a hard time finding anyone in the film to even root for outside of perhaps Ed Harris’ Du Bois but he’s really not in the film a whole lot while the three main characters might bumbling idiots but they still are scumbags to the nth degree. I will give director Michael Bay some credit for tackling something different outside of his normal $150 million+ budgeted flicks and on his end, the film at least looks good and stylistically is pretty standard.
All in all, Pain & Gain isn’t a terrible film at all however it’s not for everybody as I know plenty who loved the hell out of it for one reason or another. For myself, it’s a one and done viewing.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 3.0/5
In one of the strangest double-dips, a rarity from Paramount, only months after the initial release, this “Special Collector’s Edition” gets a new embossed slip cover. Inside of a red case, like what Entertainment One did with Passion, is a code for the Digital Copy.
The A Game: Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain (57:10; HD) is an 8-part making-of documentary chronicling nearly every aspect on how the film came to be. It’s not a bad feature with comments from the cast (including Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson) and, of course, director Michael Bay.
That’s it, the solo feature and while nice, not sure it’s worth a double-dip but if you hadn’t picked up the bare-bones release, it is well worth buying.
VIDEO – 4.75/5
Paramount releases Pain and Gain in what I assume is the same transfer as the first go-around. The 1080p high-def transfer, presented with a 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio, looks pretty damn good. The video takes advantage of the bright Florida settings which pop off the screen rather nicely while the detail levels look excellent throughout
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The disc has been given a 7.1 channel Dolby TrueHD lossless track which is really expansive showing off the crisp and clear dialogue coming from the center channel while ambient noises, and when we get some action/crime scenes, via the front and rear speakers. This is a robust track which I would expect nothing less from a Michael Bay flick.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, Pain & Gain might have its moments but the characters are mostly unlikeable and even acknowledging the substance of the plot, it’s not enough to recommend even though Mark Wahlberg is quite good in his role. Now, this “Special Collector’s Edition” Blu-ray re-release only has one feature, a 57-minute long documentary and while it’s well worth watching, it’s hardly worth the cost unless you never bothered buying the bare bones release.