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Friday, April 26, 2013

Pain and Gain



Michael Bay's "low budget ($25-million) character piece" Pain and Gain is a steroid movie on steroids, about guys on steroids who think they're master criminals. They are not, they're just huge assholes on steroids. "Based on a true story",  a pretty harrowing and grotesque true story to tell the truth, Pain and Gain takes place in Miami in the colorful go-go mid-1990's. A massive, muscled out to the max Mark Wahlberg (seriously, he's always been jacked but he's absolutely gigantic here) plays a truly detestable, lying, scheming real life scumbag, Daniel Lugo, a personal trainer with delusions of grandeur fueled by steroids and delusions of grandeur. Wahlberg is obsessed with his interpretation of the American Dream, which is to get rich and quick, no matter what it takes or who he takes it from. Wahlberg decides to take it from Tony Shalhoub, a slimy, detestable multi-millionaire who nevertheless did not deserve to be kidnapped for 30 days and tortured in a porno warehouse until he signed over all of his assets to Wahlberg and his cronies. The body image-obsessed Anthony Mackie and the good-hearted but hopelessly cocaine-addicted Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson are Wahlberg's partners in crime, along with Israeli supermodel Bar Paly as a stripper who thinks they are all CIA agents. Ed Harris joins the workout late as a private eye onto Walhberg and his muscle heads, who come to be known as "the Sun Gym Gang".  Performances are outstanding all around; Wahlberg has probably never been this frightening. The Rock all but steals the movie in his bonding scenes with Shaloub, then later when he goes on cocaine-fueled crime sprees to feed his habit. Pain and Gain is entertainingly gory in a way that will shock anyone not familiar with Breaking Bad, but ultimately, time spent with this gang of roided-out losers feels like diminishing returns. At the very least, Pain and Gain makes you wonder and doubt what your personal trainer is really up to when he's spotting you.