Pain & Gain
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Based on: Pete Collins‘ articles
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Michael Rispoli
Daniel (Mark Wahlberg) believes in two things: fitness and the American Dream. But his dream awaits fulfillment while he toils away in a fitness studio. When he gets a new client – Victor (Tony Shalhoub), superrich superdouche, Daniel teams up with his best friend Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and the recently released from prison Paul (Dwayne Johnson) to kidnap Victor and take everything he owns.
Pain & Gain was way more fun than I expected it to be. Not only were the performances by the main cast great, but the script was really entertaining and Bay hasn’t directed as well in a very, very, very long time.
I don’t know if I’m wildly misinterpreting the movie in favor of my own political leanings, because it is really rare to get a mainstream Hollywood action movie that is that critical of the American dream, but I thought that it was an amazing take-down of that rhetoric. It showed the emptiness of ambition in itself. It showed how much the “you can – and should – have everything if you work only hard enough” is untrue and can be really misleading. It showed the unhealthy obsession with perfection (in bodies) that is tied into that entire worldview. It showed how little people want to take responsibility for anything if they’re forced to be responsible for everything.
And it did so with a wicked sense of humor. When Dwayne Johnson proclaimed, “God blessed me with many gifts and one of them is to knock people out” it cracked me up. When they think it’s necessary to show the side effects of coke or to remind people that this really is a true story, it was perfect. And when Mark Wahlberg sits on the lawn mower of his dreams, I think I cried a little.
Generally the three guys – Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie – were hilarious. I mean it is no secret that I love Dwayne Johnson and that I think he has real comedic talent but I think that everybody would think that in this film. Mackie can play pretty much anything and it’s a fucking crime that he doesn’t do more movies. And Wahlberg was fantastic as well. To have Rebel Wilson in this film, too, really was the icing on the cake, though.
And I was really impressed by the direction. If you look at what Michael Bay has recently done, you forget that he can actually do very solid action movies (like Bad Boys or The Rock or even Armageddon). It’s very good of him to remind us of that with this film.
Summarizing: Yes, if you want a funny action movie, this is a perfect choice.