Pain & Gain is based on articles published by crime reporter Pete Collins. It's a true story, but director Michael Bay and his screenwriters -- Stephen McFeely and Christopher Marcus -- take some liberties with this unbelievable, sick and twisted crime story.
A very buff Mark Wahlberg, an even more buff Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and a barely beefy Anthony Mackie (Gangster Squad) play three bodybuilders who went on a crime spree that ended in maiming and murder in Miami in the mid-1990s.
The trio work and work out at a swank body-building outfit. Working with rich clients leads to the kidnapping of a wealthy immigrant. After torturing the man for days, they get him to turn over his considerable assets to them.
A failed murder attempt to eliminate him as a witness proves part of their undoing. The story gets a lot more complicated, but we'll leave it there.
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One big difference between real life and the movies is a plot that pumps up the horror with humor. Wahlberg, Johnson, Mackie and co-stars Tony Shaloub, Rob Dorddry, Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson and Ken Jeong chew through this great script with glee. Wahlberg always excels doing comic roles, and Mackie and the other co-stars are marvelous, but it is Johnson who will wow you. Never known for having anything close to solid acting chops, Johnson is exceptionally good and adds height, depth and width to his normally flat acting. It is the best and most interesting performance in a film full of them.
Bay has spent the past decade doing crap like the three Transformers movies and Pearl Harbor. This is the best he's been since The Rock in 1996. Bay and McFeely and Marcus -- who take a very unique career turn after helping pen the three Narnia movies -- do this movie in comic chunks. You see what the main characters are doing, but there are places where you also hear their thoughts and thought processes during the committing of the crimes. The big criticism here is that they have maybe too much fun with these sociopaths and their crime spree.
Director: Michael Bay
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shaloub, Rob Dorddry, Ed Harris, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong
Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars
Rated R for violence, torture, nudity, language and mature themes. It's playing at Regal's Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinema 12 and at Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.