“Pain and Gain” is the new crime action comedy from Michael Bay and took first in the domestic box office for its April 26 opening weekend. The movie is based on a true story and stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie.
The film opens to Daniel Lugo as he is attempting to escape the police. By having this scene first, the movie is then told entirely in flashback from the point of view of Lugo, his associates Adrian Doorbal and Paul Doyle, and the initial victim Victor Kershaw.
Lugo, Doyle and Doorbal are bodybuilders at the Sun Gym, who decide to expedite the American Dream for themselves. In Miami, where drugs, sex and violence are rampant, the trio set out to find a perfect target in Victor Kershaw, a Columbian entrepreneur. They proceed to kidnap, torture and extort him for all his assets, and then attempt to kill him. From here, this is where things fall apart for the gang. When Kershaw survives, he contacts a private investigator who agrees to look into the incredulous case. As this is happening, Doyle has spent all his money on cocaine and a stripper and Doorbal has put all his money into a home for him and his new wife. The trio finds a new target, which ends up being Frank Griga, a rich phone sex operator in Miami. When the plans for Griga go horribly awry, the trio tries to clean up behind themselves, but is ultimately caught.
The movie is based on a true story of the Sun Gym gang, adapted from a news series in the Miami News Times by Pete Collins. Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal were sentenced to death for the murders of Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton, as well as attempted murder, extortion and many more. Paul Doyle, a character based on Jorge Delgado and others involved, was sentenced to 15 years and is now free after he confessed and testified against Lugo.
Michael Bay has spent the better part of 10 years making the massive spectacle that is the “Transformers” movies. Here he takes a departure, although the signatures of a Michael Bay movie are still present, such as the loud explosions and slow motion.
The movie doesn’t quite achieve the comedy part of the “action comedy” it was marketed as. Some comic relief comes from the part of Doyle, who had recently found religion, plays the part of the “no-man” in the operation, often shying away from the grittier parts of their heists, although it is his descent back into drug use that prompts the murders of Griga and his girlfriend.
With Miami being a hub for sex and drugs, the strip clubs are featured prominently in the beginning of the movie. Nudity is blatant here, and while could be construed as serving the plot line as a settings device, seems merely gratuitous as the camera continually pans over the naked bodies of the dancers.
The most squeamish part of the movie comes when Lugo and Doorbal are dismembering the bodies for disposal. It comes not from viewing the dismemberment, but from the chaos of the two as they work up to doing it, with false starts and flailing chainsaws.
The movie is rated R. This black comedy, which loses its attempt at the satire of the American Dream and the division between the haves and have-nots, may not be for everyone, but the over-the-top true story bears at least a single look.