50 Film August – 16: Pain & Gain (2013)


As a huge fan of Bad Boys (1995) and Armageddon (1998) there is always hope in my heart that Michael Bay will once again direct something that isn’t complete mainstream trash. Pain and Gain marks his closest attempt in years.


Based on a true story the film is a romp of fast-paced comedy that follows three bodybuilders in an incompetent attempt to kidnap a rich man. It is clear that the men in real-life although incompetent most likely had more brains that the three in the film; however artistic license is used to make the film a fantastic comedy.


The main three actor Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie all execute there roles as fitness obsessed bodybuilders perfectly; with much of the comedy coming from the fact they are have more brawn than brain. They react well from each other and keep the film light-hearted even in the darker moments.


The film is also fairly stylistic (something which surprised me) with its use of freeze-frames, voiceover and some interesting camerawork it is good to watch from a technical point of view as well as narrative one. In fact there is only one ‘Michael Bay-esque explosion’ in the film and although it is a probably too big it does happen for a reason.


My main problem with the film comes from its obsession with America and ‘The American Dream’; right from the first scene the film bombards the audience with the ‘love America’ message with flags everywhere and characters constantly talking about making money the ‘American way’. I understand that this is a major theme for the film and the way in which the people justified their actions in real-life however it just feels too much.


Pain & Gain is possibly the best Michael Bay film I have seen and most definitely the greatest since the 90’s… it is a real shame that he has sold out as this film shows he is talented and could if he wanted create films of real merit.


Story – 4/5

Style – 4/5

Technical – 4/5

Enjoyment – 4/5


Total – 16/20 = 8/10