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Pain and Gain

Their American Dream is bigger than yours. 

Year: 2013 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Michael Bay 
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie  
An image from Pain and Gain

Pain and Gain sees Michael Bay pull back in scope, moving away from the world of giant robot fights and into a realm more enamored with Steroid abuse and petty crime. Based on a series of altercations involving some thieving bodybuilders in the 90s, Pain and Gain is a dark comedy with a thrilling action undercurrent. Forcing Bay to contain his usual visual overdrive and with an eclectic cast including Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Ed Harris and Anthony Mackie, the picture promises blockbusting kinetics blended with black, true-life shenanigans. Not exactly Transformers 4 then, eh?

Liberally adapting the story of the Sun-Gym gang (murderous, thuggish gym-rats with a penchant for volatile extortion) into a mainstream comedy can’t have been an easy proposition, but with his obsessions rooted in aesthetics and a rose-tinted perception of contemporary Americana, Michael Bay may be just the film-maker to do it. Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), is a discontented dumbbell-jockey, and feels that in order to fulfill his potential he must take what’s rightfully his. Recruiting two other protein-guzzling nut-jobs (Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) for moral support; Lugo attempts to savagely extract the assets of a wealthy fitness client. However the scheme doesn’t run entirely smoothly, as conscience and law-enforcement both enter the fracas.

The cast is rife with healthy cross-genre experience (both Wahlberg and Johnson have straddled the action and comedy lines successfully), providing Bay with recognisable and capable shoulders to hang his larceny-fuelled odyssey upon. Of course a degree of satire is anticipated, after all it’s hard to envisage a film essaying the vanity and extremism of body-building without drawing parallels between the profession and western devotion to material gain. Pain and Gain will likely satisfy as unusual and defiantly amoral mainstream fare and hopefully cause doubters to review Bay’s worth in the cinematic stratosphere.

Daniel Kelly

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Screenings of this film:

2013/2014 Autumn Term (digital)