Before director Michael Bay spent the best part of the last decade making giant robot toy movies, he specialised in making explosion movies with people as the subject. Going backwards through his career, every one of The Island, Armageddon, The Rock, and Bad Boys offer different positives, with the common denominator being cracking action, laddish and cheesy humour, and a sense of pacing that few others can match. The only real blip on his resume is the 2001 stinker ‘Pearl Harbour’, which was a painful watch.
Before going back to the toys for ‘TF4’, Bay has directed a low-budget ($26m, ha, ha) true-life tale about Miami bodybuilders trying to steal everything a rich gym-member owns via kidnapping. When two of those bodybuilders are played by Mark Whalberg and The Rock, you can guarantee you’re going to get a fun ride, and ‘Pain and Gain’ has to be one of the most enjoyably OTT movies of recent years. I’m sure it’s been glamourised to the hilt, but you can’t expect Bay to change the way he makes movies now.
Whalberg and The Rock are both hilarious in ‘Pain and Gain’, Whalberg playing someone who has no regret for the crimes he’s committing and still thinks he’s going to get away scott-free as the hammer falls. The Rock plays a dummy, something the very intelligent real-life actor is far from, but he looks like he’s having a lot of fun with it, and he actually has the emotive role. Anthony Mackie completes the trio, and while his role is less central, he’s an actor that is about to explode in the next wave of Marvel movies as a new character in the Captain America side of things.
The great Ed Harris plays a private investigator towards the end of the movie, and he’s such a charismatic man (and those blue eyes!) that you wish filmakers would utilise him more often. The world needs more Ed Harris.
‘Pain and Gain’ is a glitzy comedy about how bent out of shape the ‘American Dream’ can get when in the hands of a delusional (‘we snatch him, we grab him, signs a few signatures, we give him a protein shake! I watched a lot of movies Paul, I know what I’m doing!) nutjob.