“Pain & Gain” Muscle Bound Boredom


HOLLYWOOD—Upon first glance the picture “Pain & Gain” appears to be a picture about a group of muscle bound bodybuilders looking for a good time.  Are they douche bags, to a degree yes, but there is more to the story than appears.  The movie is based on a true tale about a group of bodybuilders inMiamiwho were responsible for the kidnapping and murder of several people in the late 90s.

This tale stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie all bodybuilders hoping for a better life.  While the real life events are a bit more dramatic and intense, the picture focuses on the action-buddy formula, with a touch of comedy.  Wahlberg portrays Daniel Lugo, a regular at the Sun Gym along with one of his best buddies Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie). Lugo dreams of a life that isn’t engulfed in poverty so he implements a plan to kidnap and extort finances from the filthy rich, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) who visits the gym on a regular basis.

To join in on the hi-jinks Lugo and Doorbal recruit recently released convict Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson).  Johnson does play against the part for the movie.  While he’s an athletic powerhouse, he’s a bit sensitive in the movie.  He’s all about getting the cash, but refuses to kill or physically harm anyone to do it.  He’s actually the only voice of reason amongst the group.  Wahlberg’s character is so cocky and annoying at times you want him to get whatever comes to him in the near future.

When the trio’s well though out plan, falters they find themselves being trailed by a private detective portrayed by Ed Harris which cues the car chases, explosions and sleuth of fist combats.  Helming the picture is action aficionado Michael Bay who is the genius behind such pictures like “Bad Boys,” “Transformers” and “Armageddon.” Taking over screenwriting duties are Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely with dialogue that is so uncomfortable to hear at times that you cringe.

The picture presents the villains as heroes to some degree which in my opinion is difficult to grasp.  Yes, they’re seeking out the American dream, but at the same time, this is a tale that is based on real life events where people were killed by these individuals.  We tend to live in a culture where we praise the villain when we should be rooting against them.

Evil never prevails in the long run, but “Pain & Gain” presents a story where the audience is expected to root for these characters that are engaging in bad things.  The characters are one note, but the events that take place are not dramatized like the real life events. It is hard not acknowledge the fact that such atrocities did take place and for “Pain & Gain” to not inform the viewers of those crimes is a shame.

By LaDale Anderson