Running time: 2 hours, 9 minutes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris
Director: Michael Bay

I never thought I’d say this, but I went to a Michael Bay movie and had a good time! Pain & Gain has plenty of laugh out loud moments and a stand out performance from Dwayne Johnson. It is a little unsettling to watch though, because this movie is based on a true story of kidnapping, torture, and extortion. There’s also some jarring scenes here, so I think your enjoyment of the movie will depend on your personal tolerance level.

Pain and Gain 2013 poster

Quick Summary

Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) is a fast talking, not-so-bright Miami bodybuilder at Sun Gym. He  enlists fellow bodybuilder Adrian Doorbal (Mackie) and recently released convict Paul Doyle (Johnson) to help him execute a plan: extort assets from a new, wealthy Sun Gym member named Victor Kershaw (Shalhoub). Their plan quickly spirals into kidnapping, torture, and murder.

The Good

Dwayne Johnson is hilarious as Paul Doyle, a convict who wants to serve God but becomes increasingly conflicted during the extortion scheme. Johnson typically plays no-nonsense characters (see: Fast Five, Fast 6, Snitch, GI Joe), but his WWF/WWE fans know that he is a very funny guy. Rebel Wilson, who stars as Doorbal’s wife, and Johnson serve as the comedic relief in an otherwise depressing movie. One of the funniest scenes is Doyle cooking severed hands on a barbecue grill. It’s ludicrous, disgusting, and insane but Johnson plays it well.

The Bad

This is a very, very, very dark comedy, and after reading the true story I’ve decided that I can’t watch this again. It’s hard to laugh during this movie when you realize how much dismemberment and blood didn’t make the cut, considering the movie already has plenty of those elements in it. There are some scenes that are hard to watch, such as the scenario where the Sun Gym gang realized torture, fire, and an SUV won’t be enough to kill Kershaw.

Score a point for Michael Bay

I think Bay lucked upon this movie, so I don’t expect him to repeat this and deliver another good movie. Pain & Gain includes a couple of the typical Bay standards: hot, scantily clad women and an over-abundance of machismo and bravado, but these aspects seem credible given the story shown here.

Final thought

I enjoyed this movie up to a certain point and then it became uncomfortable. I can’t easily recommend this movie.


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