Pain & Gain (R)

Action/Adventure 129 April 26, 2013
By Ciara LaVelle
Doesn't America promise riches and luxury to people who deserve it? Daniel Lugo-- the lead in Michael Bay's neon-noir ode to Miami, muscle tone, and the modern American dream-- believes so, but is stuck as an underpaid personal trainer at Miami Lakes' Sun Gym, where he boosts the confidence of customers far less chiseled than he and dreams of a better (read: richer) life. So, together with some muscle-bound accomplices, Lugo plots to kidnap his rich and ever-sneering Colombian client Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and torture him until he gives up everything he owns: his swanky mansion, successful deli, bright orange speedboat, the works. Bay's film is based on, and mostly faithful to, a true story penned by Pete Collins for the Miami New Times in late 1999. The Sun Gym Gang isn't made up of professional mobsters. They’re musclebound egotists with a sense of importance more inflated than their steroid-pumped pecs, and Bay wastes no opportunity for laughs at their bungling. Dressed in military fatigues, they show up at Kershaw's home expecting to catch him alone; he's hosting a Seder. Though this story needs no embellishment, Bay can't help himself. He adds wild shoot-outs, slow-mo effects, Instagram-esque freeze-frames, and B-movie-style gore. (Those who remember the Sun Gym Gang's murdered victims probably won't appreciate seeing one of their heads explode like a pumpkin beneath a falling barbell weight.) When the story crashes into a too-perfect ending, it's because Bay was led astray by the same things that got the Sun Gym Gang into this mess in the first place: superficiality, ambition, and the belief that reality just isn't good enough.
Michael Bay Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Ken Jeong, Rob Corddry, Tony Shalhoub, Kurt Angle, William Haze Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Pete Collins Michael Bay, Ian Bryce, Donald De Line Paramount Studios

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