After years of wasting his talent on those crummy Transformers films, director Michael Bay has returned to his R-rated roots with an incredibly dark comedy that’s moronic and silly, yet the single funniest film of 2013. Pain & Gain is Bay’s return to true form, showing off his trademark visual filmmaking style, while also reminding us that he used to have a talent for telling hilarious stories with some of the craziest of characters. Pain & Gain isn’t for everyone, but those that appreciate the meanest and darkest of comedies are going to absolutely love it and be begging Bay for more.
Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a gym trainer with an obsession for body-building and lifting weights. He’s got a big ego, but his heart is usually in the right place. He believes that change comes to those that reach out and grab their dreams and he takes no pity on those that waste their potential doing nothing.
He’s also got a bit of a criminal record. He’s not the smartest of men, but he’s determined and he’s willing to do anything, even if it means breaking the law, to achieve a perfect life. He gets hit in the head with an idea that involves stealing from a very wealthy man who’s also a gigantic prick. Victor (Tony Shalhoub) is rude and generally an asshole to everyone, but he’s also rich and loving every second of it. Daniel comes up with a plan to take everything from Victor and leave him clueless and without a cent.
He recruits his friends Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and Paul (Dwayne Johnson) to help him complete the task. Together, the three make for the dumbest trio of people to ever walk the Earth and quickly their foolproof plan becomes riddles with problems and backfires almost instantly.
Now, Daniel, Paul and Adrian must figure out a way to cover their tracks and avoid the police.
Pain & Gain just might be one of the craziest “based on a true story” films to ever exist. The things that the characters do and say in this film are beyond ridiculous, yet most, if not all of it, was true and actually happened. Michael Bay could not have picked a more perfect project for him to follow his trilogy of Transformers films with.
Pain & Gain is a pitch black comedy with not a single likable character, yet it’s always interesting to watch, because Bay’s filmmaking style combined with such insane characters makes for one highly entertaining film.
Bay brings his usual bag of tricks to the film. Each and every shot is bright, warm and loaded with sweat and commercial-level clarity. Also added to the mix is the director’s energetic camera movements that are usually used to help maximize an action sequence, only this time are used to make dialogue-heavy sequences full of movement and energy.
Bay’s trademarks, combined with a script that’s rarely afraid to go “too far” makes Pain & Gain a riot.
Of course, none of this would have mattered had Bay cast the wrong leading men, but luckily he has yet again struck comedic gold. Mark Wahlberg leads the pack as the film’s dumbest smart man. Daniel Lugo is determined and unafraid to take risks, but he’s also a self-centered ass that only cares about bettering himself by any means necessary. Wahlberg’s awkward line delivery, combined with is blank stare helps make Daniel’s vision clearer, even if he’s looking at it through a jaded lens.
Anthony Mackie’s Adrian is equally idiotic. Adrian is a follower and has always followed his boy Daniel, despite having serious doubts. This makes Adrian a little more predictable, but still equally funny in terms of doing some of the stupidest shit just to follow orders. Adrian’s lack of self-esteem makes him a vulnerable target for Daniel to take advantage of and as the film progresses Adrian quickly becomes just as guilty as Daniel as both men make some horrible decisions based strictly on bettering themselves financially.
Dwayne Johnson’s Paul is the film’s most sympathetic character. His sheer physical presence may intimidate some, but he’s actually a fresh out of jail convict that’s recently found Jesus and is looking for a life change. Paul’s only real crime is that he cares too much about pleasing his friends and because of that he quickly goes down the habit road that landed him behind bars in the first place. Paul, like Adrian and Daniel, isn’t the brightest bulb on the tree and he shows it numerous times throughout the film.
Pain & Gain is full of dumb and seedy individuals that represent some of America’s worst, and Bay fully takes advantage of that and delivers the funniest film of 2013 and his best film in years. Pain & Gain is a comedy not meant for most, but definitely one that will quickly earn cult status for those that appreciate its wild sense of humor and ability to continuously push the envelope in terms of comedic storytelling.
Bay has crafted his meanest, darkest, funniest and most interesting film of his career, thanks to a stellar performance by Dwayne Johnson and two equally memorable performances by Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie. The film’s script ensures for scene after scene of hilarity, while Bay’s over-exaggerated filmmaking style guarantees excitement and bizarre humor for a bulk of the film’s lengthy running time. Perhaps another round through the editing bay could make Pain & Gain a perfectly paced comedy, but as is it’s still a glorious dissection of three airheads with a confused American dream, because of one too many protein shakes and steroid injections.
Paramount’s 1080p video transfer sizzles with sun and sweat like most of Bay’s filmography. Pain & Gain captures the life and color of Miami with lots of bright oranges and blues and some grimy and washed out grays and blacks. Bay’s film is mostly full of lively colors, but it does take a dip into some less than favorable locations once the three main characters put their plan into effect. Balance is key here and detail is rarely weakened throughout the entire presentation.
The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD audio track pumps and lifts its way to high-def heaven as another one of Bay’s well-mixed endeavors. Dialogue is oh so clean, while the film’s electric score come blasting through the rear channels. Although this is Bay’s least action-packed film yet, you’ll be pleased to know that the bullets and mayhem still fly across all channels when things get a little heavier.
For some odd reason the film comes with not a single real piece of bonus material. Here’s the breakdown of what’s featured on this combo pack:
- DVD Copy
- UltraViolet Digital Copy
Paramount’s Blu-Ray release of Pain & Gain is a tricky one to recommend, because the film itself is hilarious and easily Bay’s best, but the actual packaging comes with not a single real special feature. Still, the video and audio presentations are both perfect for their respective fields and Bay’s film is more than worth the purchase based on the content alone. Pick this one up if you’re in the mood for something that’ll shock and probably offend you, while still making you laugh in the process.
Pain & Gain is Michael Bay's best film yet, fusing his high-octane and in-your-face directing style with pitch black comedy that makes for the funniest film of 2013.