Review - Pain & Gain: Laughs are at a premium and yuk, all that gore

Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo
Mark Wahlberg as Daniel Lugo

From the second Mark Wahlberg uttered the first few pointless opening lines, including the cringe-worthy “I believe in fitness”, I knew I was going to dislike this movie writes Megan Appleyard.

Funnily enough, by the same closing line “I believe in fitness”, a lot had changed. Not only did I now hate the movie, I had also lost a small but precious part of my soul and approximately 500 brain cells. This film was all pain and absolutely zero gain.

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie are three rather stupid bodybuilders in Florida, who try to kidnap and murder a rich customer from their regular gym in an attempt to steal his finances and make themselves richer. You can kind of see what Michael Bay was trying to achieve here, by bringing a (shockingly) true story to life and simultaneously hoping to create a comedy that mocks all cliché films about the American dream and being the best that you can be, however, this idea fails to translate. What is instead created is a shambles of a film that makes the audience both cringe and howl at the ridiculousness of it all. Witty and charming is what they were going for, but messy and embarrassing is more like it. I found myself frequently covering my eyes – whether that be to protect myself from the graphic and unnecessary amounts of gore and violence, or the stupidity and desperation for laughs.
There are a few good things in Pain & Gain, including moments of rare and genuine talent from Anthony Mackie, and an Ed Harris role (albeit, a disappointingly small one). Perhaps even the barbecue scene (you won’t believe your eyes) gathered a few real laughs… however if The Rock’s acting career wasn’t already down the toilet, then it most definitely is now. As for Wahlberg?

Maybe he should reconsider showing his face in public ever again?

Harsh, yes, but fans of Ted know he can do comedy, and avid watchers of The Fighter know that he can also act. This movie has taken a good five years from his career, which is an honest shame. You can do better than this Mark.

To put it simply, Pain & Gain is an embarrassment to cinema.

Although many may find some entertainment from the terrible performances, dodgy plot and try-hard direction, most will wonder where the past two hours of their lives went. That’s just my opinion, but to quote the film: “I watch a lot of movies… I know what I’m doing.”

Pain & Gain (15) Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris. Director: Michael Bay. Genre: Comedy, Crime, Action.

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