Entertainment :: Movies

Pain & Gain

by Jake Mulligan
Contributor
Tuesday Aug 27, 2013
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Michael Bay is a commercial-minded opportunist, and based on the projects he’s afforded, it’s clear that Hollywood executives consider him among the best in that field. I enjoy his films, and even I wouldn’t ascribe any artistic aspirations to his work. "Pain & Gain, as such, represents a major shift for the oft-reviled filmmaker. This coked-out crime comedy may not be esoteric, but it has something to say -- and that’s a lot more ambition than "Transformers" can lay claim to.

His caper -- based, sadly, on a true story -- features Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie as three beefcake bodybuilders, locked down in mid-90s Miami, on the hunt for a way to escape the monotony of their lives. They decide the only way to break out of the lower class is to break into the homes of the upper class, so they find the most Jewish man they can find (a shady businessman played by Tony Shalhoub), and they crassly torture him until he signs over all his property.

The cops see three accused white men, one Columbian victim, and chalk the whole thing up to a misunderstanding. Our bodybuilders then go on to waste all their cash on hookers, ugly furniture, and cocaine, while the world celebrates their "awesomeness." Wahlberg narrates the whole thing from a self-constructed pedestal of self worship.

Bay manages to deconstruct the psychology of the hyper-confident macho-male without every actually criticizing it -- because the culture doesn’t, so why should he? His men never repent, never turn their gaze inward, and as such, neither does the film. The whole picture an unfortunately repetitive, one-note construction, but the feeling of apathy it leaves you with is clearly intended. It may not be pretty, but it’s honest.

The Blu-ray of "Pain & Gain" does not include any special features.

"Pain & Gain"
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack
$39.99
paramount.com

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