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What can be said about Michael Bay? He is a man whose entire career is based upon summer blockbusters with huge budgets, an over emphasis on explosions and CGI, female characters whose one dimension is that they are hot, third act shoot outs on massive scales, and sadly huge box office numbers. He is Spielberg without the talent. Instead of classic movies like Jaws, he has Armageddon; instead of an awesome franchise like Indiana Jones, he has those God awful Transformers movies. And while Spielberg can make serious movies like Schiendler’s List, Amistad, and Lincoln; the only time Michael Bay tried that we got Pearl Harbor. Obviously, I cannot call myself a Bay fan. But at the same time, I am not a knee jerk hater. Now do not get me wrong; I hate a lot of his movies, but there are some movies of his I actually enjoy. The Rock is in my opinion his only good movie (helped in large part to Nic Cage and Sean Connery) and I will admit that Bad Boys I & II are guilty pleasures (due entirely to Will Smith). So when I heard Pain and Gain was coming out and it did not feature giant CGI robots, meteors, Megan Fox, Shia LeQueff, was made for well under $100 million dollars and no references to historical attacks from the Japanese, I figured, “What the hell? Worth a shot.” Plus this is supposed to be based on real events from Miami in the early 90’s. So how was it? Short answer: It was okay.

Long answer: the movie focuses around Daniel Lugo (Mark Walberg), a personal trainer and former white collar criminal who is sick and tired of being a nobody, is sick of being in debt, and wants the nicer things in life. He found himself a target, hatches an idea to force him to sign over all that he owns, and gets his two friends to help him, forming the Sun Gym Gang. First to join is his buddy Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), a fellow gym rat who is using steroids to get bigger, but now has ‘roid induced impotence. And he needs major bucks for the penis treatment he needs. The next to join is Paul Doyle (The Rock) an ex-con turned religious man who decides to help to get away from staying with a gay priest (I so wish I was kidding). Their mark is Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) whose character is shown to be rich, unattractive, unfit, and a complete prick. The trio has a few failed attempts to kidnap him for some laughs. They eventually succeed and they store him in a warehouse full of sex toys. But through vice, poor planning, and stupidity, blow their cash. Hence they need a new target. They find a new mark, but ***** goes wrong and they now find themselves in a very desperate situation, which leads to the final climax of the movie.

The movie is in many ways a typical Michael Bay film. It is shot in Miami just like his Bad Boys movies, the movie can’t hold a shot for more than a few seconds, pointless female characters who are there to be hot (more on that later), has a final chase sequence that involves cars, boats, AND helicopters; and finally it is the genre where he is at his most profitable (but not necessarily his best) a big dumb action movie. But at the same time there was no CGI robots or giant asteroids, there were only a handful of explosions, and the action scenes were much more scaled back compared to his other films. In fact the third act action sequence seemed more akin to an action scene in the first part of one of his other movies. In other words, very small due to the much smaller budget he is used to working with. In addition he throws in some shots that look like they were captured on a hand held camera like a shot from End of Watch (a much better movie).

And like with any movie that claims to be based on true events, Hollywood changed a whole lot of stuff to make this movie. And I thought I was going to be able to point out the bullsh!t. But after reading the original articles detailing the events… a lot if it was in fact real. Very weird and very real. There really was a stripper from eastern Europe who was dumb enough to believe that her criminal boyfriend was with the CIA. There were many failed kidnapping attempts, one of which did involve ninja outfits. The line about running away with the Cuban maid so they could liquefy the assets was also true. The ridiculous fake car crash scenario with its failures and end result was based on real events. The strip club was a frequent hang out and not just a pointless excuse to get naked ladies on the screen, and a dead body was IDed via breast implants.

But they also changed some stuff. Some of it I get, and other changes were because Bay is a juvenile idiot. Most notably was Adrian Doole and his wife. In the movie he marries a large white woman who is a nurse who he met during his doctor's visits for erectile dysfunction. He did marry a nurse and he did have erectile issues, but the fat white chick was purely for fat jokes! There was no gay priest who tried to hit on Doyle, and the warehouse they tortured him in was not full of dildos, those changes are due to Bay's humor. In addition the Sun Gym gang was larger and there was no Paul Doyle, who was an amalgamation of two other guys to slim down the cast. And remember that stripper I was talking about? She actually had a bigger part to play in the real life events then depicted in the movie. So even when given a female character who is a stupid bimbo who is a part of the story, Bay still cuts down her importance so much in the film, she becomes useless in the movie. In addition the main characters were not likable idiots, they were stone killers. Most of them were married with kids and carrying on affairs with strippers on the side! These details were changed to make the main characters likable. And the victim Kershaw was not a one note douche bag like he was portrayed in the movie! That was changed so we did not care that he was brutally tortured. Which was also very real. And in addition to his torture, the gang made threats of assault against his family and even threatened to rape his wife! These were not nice people! In addition there was no final chases or boat getaways, all of that was pulled out of Bay’s ass. There are other changes, but to list all of them would take a long @ss time.

This movie is “based on true events” in the same way Tony Scott’s Domino was based on true events. Either way you look at it, it is a Michael Bay film through and through. It has style written all over the movie. If you like his movies, see it, though you could wait until it comes out on Red Box if you ask me. If you do not like his movies, skip it and read the articles instead. A very interesting read.


In the end, I had some fun with it, but I will not be rushing out to buy it on DVD when it is released. A one and done for me.