Run to the hills, it’s that time of year again; Michael Bay has slithered out from under his rock to inflict another one of his films upon an undeserving world.
For Pain and Gain, Bay claims he’s gone all serious; he informs us he’s abandoned his usual, noisy, flippant style and treated us to something more grounded, more art house. The focus of Bay’s new style, and majesterial gaze, is the real-life story of the Sun Gym murders, certainly a weightier subject matter than Bay’s recent offerings; those bloody great robots from outer space.
If the thought of a serious Michael Bay film gives you anything other than great cause for concern, then accept my sincere commiserations. Pain and Gain is a Michael Bay film very much in the mold of a Michael Bay film. A crime satire which sees Bay flaunt his usual contempt for women, comedy and anyone with a modicum of taste, or just a functioning pair of eyes.
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), is naive, wide-eyed proponent of the American Dream. He’s a “doer” and he believes in fitness (he’s big, he’s strong, he’s hot). Trouble is, his chest is larger than his bank balance and his dead-end gym job leaves him craving more from life. More money to be specific, and so he enlists the help of fellow gym-hound, Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and colossal, ex-con Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) in his plan to kidnap and extort wealthy client Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub).
Their plan initially seems to have been a success and the gang revels in the filthy lucre that their crime has bestowed upon them. But after Victor survives his attempted murder he enlists the help of a private detective (Ed Harris) to retrieve his lost fortune and the gangs party is well and truly over.
For approximately twenty minutes you suspect that Bay’s intentions might be honourable here. The opening movement blasts so much ripped, glistening man-flesh at you that you’re almost fooled into thinking it’s an arch piece of homoerotic high camp. Then the director proceeds to stick his camera up the skirt of every women he can find, sprinkles in a couple of ugly homophobic gags and you land firmly back on planet Bay, a world inhabited only by perpetually horny boy-racers with no concept of humour.
Kudos to Dwayne Johnson, whose meat-head-with-a-heart-of-gold routine sees him escape this one just about on an even footing. Sadly his contribution is nowhere near enough to help pretend this is anything other than what it is. A Michael Bay joint.
Release Date: 30th August 2013 (UK)
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Rebel Wilson