Film Review: Pain & Gain (2013)


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Pain & Gain’, is a vain, shallow, hate-filled turd of a film. It’s racist, egotistical and self-obsessive, taking a true story, for which there is a strong, strong case for it NOT to be told, and creating a 2 hour sloppy, crappy mess.

I hated it.

Hated it, hated it, hated it. Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Anthony Mackie were the trio, playing the three weightlifting criminals who director Michael Bay expects you to root for. He tries this through poor attempts at comedy, trying to employ Wahlberg and Johnson in ‘cooky-zany’ comedic roles…it doesn’t work whatsoever, and the two distinct contrast, serious, bloody murder and comedic crazy capers, do not go hand in hand.

Bay should stick to churning out the boring ‘Transformers’ series, films that I’ve grown tired of, but will struggle to be as angry about, if I ever saw another one (which I’d doubt). This, however, I was genuinely looking forward to. The trailers looked interesting, action-filled and humourous, I’m a fan of all the actors involved, pretty much and it looked like it was dealing with a serious matter. But Bay messed it all up. I was close 2 or 3 times to leaving the screening of the film, and pretty much only stayed to see how the scumbags were dealt with, and because it was a free showing!

The Rock’s character is just ridiculous. Already having been in prison, he’s a ‘reformed man of Christ’, yet succumbs to Mark Wahlberg’s request to get back into the crime business. THEN, he turns into a coke addict…and I just gave up. It’s horrible to even have to review this film, honestly, as it reminds me I wasted my time watching this film, but then I hope this’ll mean you too don’t waste your time with it!

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Forgetting about the serious murdering, robbery and torturing that the three men responsible did, let’s go to the themes of the film. These are the ‘dooer’ mantra that Wahlberg’s character picks up early on, almost indoctrinated into him by Ken Jeong’s Mr Wu, a conman, more than anything. It’s a mantra that fits his self-obsessed, steroid packed outlook on life. He wants to live ‘The American Dream’, and believes robbing a man of his house, money, cars and businesses is the best way to do so, whilst ‘pumping’ his muscles. I despised the way they tortured the man for 30 days, using all sorts of equipment.

Then the more we progress with the film, the worse it genuinely gets. It’s length is a huge issue, the ridiculousness gets worse and worse, but, undoubtedly the worst thing was this: it was trying to get audience’s to sympathize with three awful, awful people. Throughout, we are supposed to be laughing at bodybuilders who torture on the side, who exploit others, who ‘accidentally’ kill people, which incidentally actually DIDN’T HAPPEN, and the two people ‘accidentally’ killed, were actually intentionally killed in the ‘true story’. Having read up on the true story, it’s clear to see Bay thought it was too grim to fit in with his action-comedy vision, so he tweaked things here and there to make his three seem more likeable. It utterly failed.

Not only is it sad for the families of these real victims to see such atrocities glorified on the big screen just 20 years after they actually occurred, it’s almost borderline offensive. For what it’s worth, Bay also throws his typical racial stereotyping into the mix, with Mackie’s character taking the brunt of that, whilst also devaluing women, something for which is his infamous in. Infact, I’m pretty sure he is the only consistently employed Hollywood filmmaker who manages to find spots in his films for models who clearly have no acting ability, but have others that impress him…visually of course. Fun for the whole family? I think not

This is a major misstep for Wahlberg and Johnson, for almost everyone involved on the project infact, although two characters I enjoyed, for the sense of justice and righteousness, were the private investigator and the victim himself, they were played excellently well and possibly the only ‘real’ characters throughout the whole piece.

It’s a film based on nasty men and their nasty crimes, that doesn’t take it seriously enough. It’s a film made by a pretty shallow man, and it shows- ‘Pain & Gain’, is awful, one of the worst films I’ve ever had the misfortune to see and I can’t even recommend it to my worst enemies, it’d be too much for them to handle. (I apologize if this is mainly a rant about the film, it’s just the only conceivable way to consider writing up about it!)

2/10


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