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Pain & Gain - DVD Review

Pain & Gain

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

MICHAEL Bay’s idea of a small movie away from his Transformers franchise is this crime caper based on a true story of Miami low lives who chased the American Dream a little too vigorously.

The ensuing film often feels like Bay is riffing on the same template for violent excess that Brian De Palma first employed with Scarface. But while opening in promising fashion, the ensuing film eventually falls victim to the director’s usual penchant for excess.

The story focuses on a trio of hapless criminals led by Mark Wahlberg’s pissed off, body building personal trainer Daniel Lugo, and including Dwayne Johnson’s ex-con Paul Doyle and Anthony Mackie’s Adrian Doorbal.

Desperate to better themselves and realise their American Dream, the trio kidnap a businessman (Tony Shalhoub) without reckoning on his refusal to be intimidated and eventually find themselves in a situation way over their heads and in the cross hairs of a dogged former detective (Ed Harris).

Bay’s film is based on the true life story of Adrian Doorbal and their attempt to kidnap and extort Marc Schiller, albeit with heavy dramatic licence (certain names have been changed as have some events). But it’s for that reason that the film retains a certain car crash quality in seeing how events unfold.

There are also some solid performances from the likes of Wahlberg, Johnson and the always dependable Harris.

But Bay sadly cannot keep himself in check and the longer the film lasts, the more cranked up and hideous things become to the extent that you may quickly begin to lose patience with Bay’s directorial style.

Conversations become shouting matches, the violence is brutal and sometimes feels voyeuristic (the 15 certificate is a mystery), the pacing is overly frantic, there are certain moments that are just plain crass and unnecessary and any ambition the film had to say something valid or even sarcastic about that American Dream gets trampled along the way.

Hence, what could have been a smart crime comedy ends up a loud and excessive experience that feels utterly draining. Overall, it offers too much pain for very little gain.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 129mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: December 23, 2013