All Gain, No Pain

The new film “Pain & Gain” is based on a true story that took place in Miami, Florida between 1994 and 1995.  While the movie is marketed as a dark comedy, the real life events of the film are harrowing and too unbelievable to be anything but false.  Leave it to Michael Bay to take a serious subject matter and turn it into a Michael Bay movie.  That’s not necessarily a horrible thing though.  While what happened is well, to put it correctly, fucked up, you kinda can’t help but laugh at how stupid these real life individuals had to be in order to concoct a plan that was so ill-conceived that it actually worked.

The film stars Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo, an ambitious man in his 30s that wants more out of life than what he has.  Hey we’ve all been there haven’t we?  Daniel is a dedicated to fitness.  He’s a supervisor a Sun Gym in Miami who focuses most of his time trying to better his clients and his own pursuit of personal perfection.  His close friend Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie) is in the same boat as Lugo.  Lugo doesn’t know what to do with his life to make it better, but wants the ideal American Dream.  One day fate answers with several individuals who come into his life.  One is Jonny Wu (played by, you guessed it, the overly saturated Ken Jeong) who’s a self-help guru for people to take what they want.  Lugo begins to believe Wu’s philosophy that anything is possible to attain.

The next individual who comes into Lugo’s life that shapes it is Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub).  Kershaw is a self-made man who owns several business and has the asshole card to validate it.  Then the final piece of a the puzzle comes in, a monster of a human being name Paul Doyle (played by Dwayne Johnson) who’s a recently reborn Christian after his most recent stint in prison and struggle with cocaine.  When inspiration strikes, Lugo makes his overall plan come to fruition: himself, Doorbal and Doyle are going to rob Victor Kershaw and take everything he owns by any means necessary.  The boys kidnap Kershaw and hold him hostage for 30 days depriving him of sleep, food and freedom.  They torture this man just so he can sign over all his assets to them.

As the boys delve deeper into their tretcherous acts of violence they get exactly what they want leaving Kershaw for dead.  While Lugo and his crew spend his money and commit debautchery, they get too far in over their heads which leads to further violence, murder, and robbery.  In the end justice prevails, but the film takes so many twists and turns that it’s hard to believe any of this actually happened.  Once again, it did.

The film itself is hysterical, shocking and frightening at the same time.  I found myself enamored with this story and knew that the end was coming for these individuals.  Mark Wahlberg gives the funniest performance of his career.  Forget “Ted” and “The Other Guys,” Wahlberg’s comedic work in this film is his funniest to date.  Dwayne Johnson gives the best performance of his acting career as he’s playing a real person, not a super-soldier or a cop, but a guy way in over his head who’s trying to use his wits about him.  The supporting cast is phenomenal as well.  Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson and Rob Corddry all bring that are by no means playing the same characters they always play.  Well, maybe Ed Harris does, but Harris is a tough old bad ass who’s still intimidating as hell.  The chemistry between Mackie, Wahlberg and Johnson is one of the best trios I’ve seen on-screen in years.

In conclusion, “Pain & Gain” is a definite must see and one of my favorite films of this year so far.  The film has everything: action, drama, suspense, comedy.  I had little to no expectations for this movie to be anything but trash, but it’s the complete opposite.  Don’t let the trailer be the only judgement you have on this movie.  Go out and see this film now.  Oh yeah, and don’t do drugs.

Overall score: 9.5 out of 10