Dir: Michael Bay, 2013
Offensive and insulting or fun filmmaking courtesy of artistic licence?
Three body builders kidnap and torture a rich business man which, in turn, leads to more murders.
Based on a true story, Pain & Gain puts a comic twist on the events and, let’s face it, is in very bad taste.
People were killed and some were left, understandably, emotionally scarred after what had happened. Would filmmakers make a comedy out of 9/11 or 7/7? I know, what about the Moors murders or Hillsborough? They all seem ripe for parody. The comic potential in those is unlimited(!). (Just to clarify, I am being sarcastic, as it will go over the heads of some people)
See? Nobody in their right minds would ever contemplate trivialising such horrors, so why is this any different?
But, make a comedy they did and I have to review it as is.
The film is a bit of a guilty pleasure. On the one hand, it’s enjoyable but, on the other, it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, knowing that it’s true.
Pain & Gain works on two levels but not, necessarily, together. As a comedy, it has some very funny moments with absurdist characters. As a thriller, it’s a good, real-life drama, complete with some rather violent scenes.
But, there, mixing the two genres, causes a sense of unease and being uncomfortable. A particular scene, concerns the hacking up of an innocent woman with a chainsaw only to have it keep faltering and get it caught up in her hair, which they take back to the shop because it’s faulty.
To garner even more laughs, another character lights up the barbecue and then proceeds to cook the dismembered limbs outside because it was getting too smoky doing it indoors.
If it was a farcical comedy, then brilliant. But, it’s not. It’s real, and it triggers a differing set of emotions.
Mark Wahlberg is the lead actor, playing the mastermind behind it all, Daniel Lugo. The erstwhile Marky Mark singer and New Kid On The Block, does what he can only do; grimace and act aggressively.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is the best of the bunch. Naturally a comic actor, Johnson provides all the biggest laughs as the God fearing cocaine addict with little common sense. Possessing a child like demeanour, the character is the most likeable and you can’t help but root for him.
A shout out must go to Anthony Mackie as the second accomplice in the crime. Both he and Johnson steal the film, right from under the nose Wahlberg.
Having a run time of around two hours and ten minutes, the film is certainly too long and could, easily, have been improved by shearing twenty minutes or so off the overall length.
Ultimately, Pain & Gain doesn’t really know what it is. Comedy or drama? If Bay had stuck to one genre, then it could have been an excellent movie. As it is, it’s merely so-so.
Time filling fodder.