irector Michael Bay has a bad reputation. He's infamous for being a douchbag, a bully, a hack and even an asshole. His movies are despised by a large percentage of movie hounds because they're everything Hollywood has become in that they never care about substance and as long as things keep moving, blow up, show hot girls and have big A-list casts; people will show up and slap down money for it. I won't deny any of that for a second but I'll fully admit that I still kind of like the guy. But Pain and Gain
is one of his worst.
The movie is based on the true story about three muclehead gym rats that get the idea to kidnap a rich client, torture him till he signs over all his money and then live the high life. Things don't go according to plan and people end up dying. The three murders are played by Mark Walburg, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Real Steel
). The rest of the cast some impressive talent in Tony Shaloub (Men in Black, Cars
), Ed Harris (The Rock, Pollock
) and Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine, Warm Bodies
) but all that supporting talent isn't enough to over shaddow how base and shallow this film is.
They market it as a true story and even stop in a clever and funny way to remind you this is a true story but the truth is that it's what happened but not how. This is a murder case where two people died and a third was tortured and the "heroes" of this film are serving out their sentences on death row. These were not good guys and the families of the victims are suing the film for portraying them as fun-loving dudes. Knowing that before seeing the film may have tainted my impression but I still think that would have lingered in my mind. True quirky murder stories make for great films but they should never be made at the expense of the victims. Fargo
is a great example of how it can be done perfectly, which is why it won Best Picture. Pain and Gain
was made with zero reguard for anyone's actual feelings.
Johnson has been in a ton of movies and I'm not sure I've enjoyed any of them outside of The Other Guys
and Get Smart
...probably because he dies early on in each one. I have nothing against him; he's a throwback to the 'roided-up leading men of the '80s that were larger than life, had limited acting range but looked good holding a gun. Pain and Gain
was the first time I've been really impressed with his acting skills though. He plays a born again Jesus freak who still struggles with his demons and he plays him earnestly and still manages to be really funny. Walburg on the other hand has worn out his welcome with me. After seeing this I'm pretty sure his range consists of talking fast, yelling and being Mark Walburg. This is some of the most base performing he's done with his career and it makes you realize that it's all been base for quite some time.
You know, Bay may be a douchebag who swung hard with Pain and Gain
but struck out, but I still wouldn't write him off as a director. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the Bad Boys
films, The Rock
, the first Transformers
and even Armageddon
. But the man is no flawless genius and this proves it. This was a film made to be slick and flashy but instead comes across cold, detached, unfeeling and mostly just stupid. Maybe at his core that's what Michael Bay is really like, if you listen to the rumors that are out there. Supposedly they're based on true stories too but told with zero reguard for the victim (him) so he should know how that feels.
Pain and Gaivn (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: D+