After watching Pain & Gain, I looked carefully at the credits to make sure the film was indeed directed by Michael Bay. Long known for big budget movies with even bigger explosions, Pain & Gain is the director’s ‘smallest’ film since 1995’s Bad Boys, and his first since 2005 that isn’t part of the Transformers franchise. With just one explosion throughout the entire 129 minute runtime, Pain & Gain just might be Bay’s most entertaining film to date. If not, it’s right up there with The Rock.
Based on a bizarre, yet true story, in mid-nineties Miami, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), is a man with strong beliefs. A bodybuilder, he believes in fitness, working hard, and above all, the American Dream. However, despite all his confidence, toil, and faith, he doesn’t have much to show for it, except a Fiero with threadbare Scooby-Doo seat covers.
After hearing self-help huckster Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong), Daniel decides he’s a “doer” instead of a “don’ter.” Convinced he can do much more than his job as a personal trainer at Sun Gym allows, Daniel recruits impotent co-worker Adrian (Anthony Mackie) and born-again bruiser Paul (Dwayne Johnson) to help execute a plan he believes will make them rich and respected. His plan is to kidnap one of his wealthy clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub). Victor is an arrogant guy, who rants, raves, and spews general ugliness during his workouts. Daniel is able to convince himself that he would actually be doing the world a favor by taking away Victor’s wealth. With his plan in place, Daniel declares war, hiding Victor in a sex toy warehouse while he works to steal every last cent. Drunk on wealth and power, Daniel, Adrian, and Paul have the time of their lives, romancing women, doing drugs, and flashing their money. Their lack of discretion gives private detective Ed Du Bois III (Ed Harris), the opening he needs to uncover some hard truths. Panicking, Daniel and the boys engage in a series of horrific crimes aimed at self-preservation.
The acting is universally good, and Paul Doyle is the best role of Dwayne Johnson’s career thus far. His character is surprisingly complex. While Paul has his demons, he’s trying hard to be a good person; he’s a religious man trying to stay sober. Not only is Paul funny (“I am blessed with many gifts and one of them is knocking you the @#$% out!”), but he’s an emotional ping pong ball—one minute he’s praying, the next minute he’s knocking you out, and crying about it—and Johnson handles the quick mood changes very well.
While Pain & Gain does feel a bit long in places (the film certainly could’ve used a bit of editing here and there), the antics of The Sun Gym Gang are so ludicrous you can’t help but laugh. If this wasn’t based on a true story, I would’ve never believed it.
Presented in the 2.40:1 aspect ratio, Paramount has given Pain & Gain an excellent 1080p transfer. Detail is absolutely stunning. We can see every individual hair on Mark Wahlberg’s beard. Since the movie takes place in Miami, the entire thing has a warm look to it, with a bright and vivid color palette.
Pain & Gain‘s Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless soundtrack hits a homerun. Big and bold, we’re given a fully immersive experience. Heavy but accurate bass comes out of the subwoofer. Off screen effects are convincing, yet not overpowering. Range is solid throughout, and the dialogue is always crisp and clear.
English, English SDH, French, Spanish, and Portuguese subtitles are included.
Sadly, no special features are available. However, a UV Digital copy voucher and a DVD disc are included.