Pain & Gain

Director Michael Bay personifies everything that serious film fans hate about Hollywood: from the triumphalist disaster porn of his ‘Armageddon’ to his interminable ‘Transformers’ series, Bay’s work is brash, shallow and cheesy. But that’s not always a bad thing, as Bay proves with his wildly entertaining ‘Pain & Gain’. Based very loosely on a true story, the film follows a trio of lunkheaded Miami muscle men – ambitious grasper Mark Wahlberg, impotent dimwit Anthony Mackie and loveable ex-con turned repentant believer Dwayne Johnson – as they attempt to get rich quick by kidnapping a deli owner (Stanley Tucci) and rinsing him for his every dime. The first hour may be Bay’s career high point: it’s fast, freaky, gloriously tasteless and startlingly pointed in its attacks on western insecurity, shallowness and greed (‘I just wanted my part of the American dream’, enthuses Wahlberg’s pea-brained psychopath). There are tonal wobbles later on – a descent into extreme violence, coupled with Bay’s customary sexism, does get tiresome. But the ever-present air of madcap, goofball insanity carries it through. A seriously guilty pleasure.

Release details

Duration: 129 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Michael Bay
Screenwriter: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Cast: Mark Wahlberg
Dwayne Johnson
Rebel Wilson