Pain & Gain (2013) Review: Michael Bay Tackles Steroids. And Murder. And Some Explosions.

By Karan Dholakia

VERY loosely based on the events that occurred in Miami during the mid nineties, Pain & Gain centres around 'The Sun Gym Gang' and their crime rampage during this time.

Starring Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo, a hardcore gym nut/entrepreneur, alongside Anthony Mackie as Adrian "Noel" Doorbal, his 'sidekick' of sorts, with Dwayne Johnson playing Paul Doyle, the heavy.

Doing a quick Google search on this story will amass a number of articles, some will even point out that Pain & Gain is nothing more than a glorified, comedic, 'Hollywood' version of the events that took place in the mid-nineties. The murders that take place in the film are somewhat accurate to the ones that occurred in real life, but take it all with a pinch of salt; this IS Entertainment, after all. 

So the film follows a basic premise. Daniel Lugo wants to be rich. He wants to be 'big'. Big in the proportionate sense, I suppose, and in terms of success too. He runs the Sun Gym, a suburban Miami gym alongside his friend and right hand man Noel. Paul Doyle enters the picture when looking for a job after doing some time in prison after petty crimes. Little did they know they were all about to have their lives changed drastically when wealthy entrepreneur Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub), enters their lives and Lugo gets an idea. He wants what Kershaw has, and he's prepared to do anything to get it.

[caption id="attachment_7516" align="alignright" width="590"]Screen Shot 2013-08-24 at 11.15.27 Thanks, Michael. As if it wasn't plastered on the Film's marketing materials enough.[/caption]

This is where the film takes a number of weird directions. Every so often, the shot will freeze, overlaying a caption alluding to the story's direction or current place. Take this shot, for example. Johnson's semi-fictional character Paul Doyle is seen here grilling body parts. At this point the film deems it fit to tell us that it's still a true story. Okay. This kind of ruined the flow of film, albeit in a humorous fashion; this was done far too often, and at times seemed unnecessary.

The conclusion of Pain & Gain shows Lugo in his most deluded state; almost accepting of his ultimate judgement. It's at this point the film truly got entertaining. This, of course is in the closing minutes of the film, but it was here where we're fully able to see Lugo at his absolute height of delusion. Why is this entertaining? Throughout the whole film Lugo is this go-getter, has high hopes and big dreams... then we see he was deluded from the start.




Karan Dholakia

Films, comic books, video games, wrestling, writing, and a helluva load of other stuff are my interests. I write, watch films, and write some more. Also, Movieville is my child.