Perfectly balancing comedy with a crime thriller, Pain & Gain is a most entertaining watch.
Bodybuilder and gym trainer Daniel Lugo wants to live the American dream. He enlists the help of his colleague Adrian and recently released convict Paul in order to kidnap and extort a rich client. The scheme is not quite so simple, however…
From the very beginning, Pain & Gain grabs the audience’s attention and does not let go. The film is funny, and frequently laugh-out-loud hilarious. And yet the crime thriller elements work just as well, thanks to the chaotic nature of events.
Pain & Gain is based on a true story, despite the outlandish nature of the plot. The film astutely reminds viewers of this fact. The film has been criticised for making light of serious real life events. Looking at Pain & Gain solely as a film, it works incredibly well. Although the comedic elements are strong, this does not necessitate that the audience will side with the criminal protagonists.
The protagonists are well drawn. They are amusing, but in a laugh at them rather than laugh with them type of way. Film veers into black comedy in the second half, with some elements so macabre it is difficult not to be amused.
The tone of Pain & Gain is set immediately, and the film does not deviate from this. The context of the film is strongly drawn. The film remains humorous throughout, even as proceedings become increasingly dangerous and chaotic. The plot is sufficiently gripping, especially for viewers unaware of the actual case.
The mid-90s setting is conveyed authentically through the music and the costumes. Michael Bay’s style of direction is strong, with the turbulent nature of certain scenes emphasised by the frenetic camera work and editing.
Performances are great throughout Pain & Gain. Dwayne Johnson delivers his strongest performance to date as Paul. It is almost as if the part of Daniel was made for Mark Wahlberg, while Anthony Mackie exhibits great comedy chops..
Pain & Gain is Michael Bay’s strongest film for years. It is thoroughly entertaining and one of the best films of the summer.