SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
   December 19, 2014



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

Raw in Detroit


WWE Tables, Ladders and Chairs ... and Stairs


NXT Takeover: [R] Evolution


WWE Survivor Series


House of Hardcore VII


Signmania VIII


Beulah McGillicutty







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





'Pain & Gain' worth a watch
By JIM SLOTEK - Toronto Sun


Yes, I just gave a Michael Bay movie four stars. No, I don't think I've gone crazy.

It happens in this job that someone you think you've got pegged surprises you. Example: when Joel Schumacher -- the guy who put nipples on Batman -- came out with the gripping Colin Farrell thriller Phone Booth.

The noirish-ly comic true-crime story Pain & Gain similarly shows a side of Bay we've never seen -- or could possibly hear over the noise of explosions in Transformers movies.

There is one explosion in this film (naturally it's misleadingly included in the trailers). Fact is, if I didn't know who made it, and someone told me it was the Coen brothers, I'd have believed them. Stupid criminals, an unnecessarily complicated scheme, panicky murders, black humour ... it's all there.

And it's been there all along in the form of a series of extortions and a double homicide committed by members of a Miami bodybuilding gym in the '90s. The bizarre details captivated the city throughout the trial.


In Pain & Gain, Mark Wahlberg is Danny Lugo -- for what it's worth, the brains of the operation. Wahlberg, whose default facial expression is anger and frustration, plays Lugo as a guy who's devoted his life to his muscle tone, thinking it his ticket to the American dream. All it gets him, however, is patronizing treatment from the rich people he "spots" at the gym.

When he falls under the sales pitch of an Asian-American self-help huckster (Ken Jeong, seemingly playing the '90s infomercial star Tom Vu), it unhinges him. Unhindered by moral concerns, he sees "opportunity" in the kidnapping of a dislikeable Colombian businessman client, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) and a vague notion of getting him to sign over everything he owns.

Lugo rounds up two easily manipulable fellow bodybuilders -- a smallish, Mr. America wannabe named Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and an emotional ex-con named Paul Doyle (Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson), hooked on Jesus, but apparently susceptible to other addictions as well. (Lugo and Doorbal are the real names of the characters who are now on Death Row. Doyle is a composite).

Screw-up piles on screw-up, shot by Bay with a keen handle on visual absurdities (amid a lot of panicky shouting). The trio finds another target in a pair of husband-and-wife adult entertainment entrepreneurs. A toe gets shot off in a run from police. Meanwhile, the escaped businessman can't get the cops to believe his story and hires an initially reluctant private detective (Ed Harris) to be the movie's avuncular moral centre and do the legwork the cops refused to do.

And like the wood-chipper scene in the Coens' Fargo, Pain & Gain has a gruesome denouement that is too surreal to not elicit an embarrassed laugh.

If Hollywood really is bankrupt of ideas, Pain & Gain is proof that it could be bailed out by reality too crazy to make up.


RELATED LINKS

  • The Rock bio and story archive
  • The SLAM! Wrestling Movie Database