Monday 7 August 2023

Movie Review: Pain & Gain (2013)

Genre: Crime Comedy Drama
Director: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson
Running Time: 129 minutes

Synopsis: The setting is Miami in 1993. Body builder and fitness club personal trainer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is inspired by charlatan self-help gurus and obsessed with achieving wealth. He recruits fellow body builders Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and Noel (Anthony Mackie) to kidnap gym club client and shady businessman Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and have him sign over all his assets. Kershaw turns out to be a tough nut to crack, leading to the involvement of private detective Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris).

What Works Well: Based on real events, Michael Bay creates an enjoyably over-blown and vivid story of dim-witted criminals overreaching in pursuit of the crass yachts-and-sportscars lifestyle sold on television. The action is drenched in sweat and complemented by thumping music, allowing the animated cast to play it straight and revel in the stupidity of men mistaking muscles for brains. The kidnappers are provided distinct personalities: Lugo is the scrappy leader, Noel is the easily impressed follower, and Paul is caught in a fragile attempt at reformation. The acidic humour adds crackles of energy, and Tony Shalhoub has the most fun as the indestructible Kershaw spitting venemous fury at his assailants.

What Does Not Work As Well: Criminal acts and victims are treated with marginally off-putting disdain, and the running time is as artificially bloated as the bulging biceps.

Conclusion: The dark side of the American dream in bright, brash colours.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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