Film Review: Pain & Gain

Based on an unbelievably true story and directed by Michael Bay, Pain and Gain follows a trio of bodybuilders (Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) affiliated with Sun Gym in 1990s Miami who, in pursuit of the American Dream, get caught up in an extortion ring, compromising of the kidnapping, extortion, torture, and murder of several victims, that goes terribly wrong.

The fact that Pain and Gain is based on a true story is what will make you love it. There are so many scenes that would normally make you think, “This is so far from reality that it is ridiculous now,” but knowing it actually happens leaves you shell-shocked in absolute awe. Pain and Gain is dumb but completely hilarious, and because it’s so hard to take seriously it’s incredibly fun to watch. Sometimes, as with the true story Bernie, it’s easy to be put off by the fact that we are made to favour the criminals at the heart of the story, but by the end it’s so impossible to feel sorry for these characters when they go about everything so completely wrong that it doesn’t really matter. Sure, they deserve what they got for the awful things they did, but these are a set of characters I could watch over and over.

Mark Wahlberg is perfect in the lead role and I have to say that I haven’t enjoyed this much since his role in Boogie Nights. I much prefer his more comical roles to the ones we are expected to take seriously, something I find hard to do lately, especially after watching The Happening. The actor who surprised me most, though, was Dwayne Johnson. I’ve never been a fan of his acting after being forced to watch him wrestle, but for the first time I genuinely felt that he really was made for acting. His character suited him brilliantly and it was his role that made me laugh so much.

I really can’t express how funny this film is, but more unbelievably I can’t believe that this was directed by Michael Bay.

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