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All Pain and No Gain - A review of Pain and Gain

Updated on April 28, 2013
Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie star as three ill-fated criminals in the hesit comedy action film Pain and Gain
Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie star as three ill-fated criminals in the hesit comedy action film Pain and Gain
3 stars for Pain and Gain

Summary: A fictionalized account of the antics of convicted murderer Daniel Lugo and his partner Adrian Doorbal. Could have been compelling, but instead turns out to be a farcical examination of the anatomy of a criminal partnership gone awry.

Michael Bay is the director of this film, so I really didn’t have high hopes from the outset. Bay is notorious for his popcorn summer blockbusters where the central characters are generally decked out in loud primary colors and testosterone, gunfire and explosions are the menu fare at the table.

Here, the gunfire and explosions have been toned down, but the primary colors are certainly present. Along with a colorless tale of criminal activity attempted with predictable results.

Anyone who remembers the sordid tale of Daniel Lugo, played here by an unrestrained Mark Wahlberg, will know exactly how the story will end. I won’t spoil that for the uninitiated, however.

What really bugged me is how easily Lugo and his associates (played by Anthony Mackie and Dwayne Johnson) managed to get their hands on the fortune of mogul Victor Kershaw (played by the always reliable Tony Shalhoub). After all, you would think a wealthy man would have more safeguards on his fortune.

But the three criminals do manage it, and the resulting snowball effect drags the masterminds into a web of mayhem that gets darker and more foreboding as the tale unfolds.

It’s hard to know whether this story was being played more for comedy or action since the humor isn’t all that funny and there isn’t a single likable hero or villain in the entire picture. I’m not sure what any of the actors saw in this script, other than, perhaps, a fat payday at the end of it all.

The star power, however, is the one charm of the picture. Wahlberg delivers a solid performance as the fitness obsessed Lugo and Mackie is marvelous as the steroid popping Doorbal. Johnson, though, is the weak link in the trio. His sappy Paul Doyle seems less than comfortable with the entire premise and, like us, just wants out of it as soon as the way is clear to the door.

Shalhoub is on target with his portrayal of the millionaire we can love to hate, but we still feel bad for him when he’s ripped off callously by this bunch. You can take or leave the rest of the cast.

As a lead in for this week’s Iron Man 3, this is an okay distraction, but I wouldn’t waste the time or money unless nothing else is playing that you want to see. I give Pain and Gain 3 out 5 stars.


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    • BernietheMovieGuy profile image

      Bernie Ment 4 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      A rental, absolutely, but there really isn't a compelling reason to take out a second mortgage to see this on the big screen. Thanks for the comment!

    • adecourv profile image

      Alex deCourville 4 years ago

      I remember seeing trailers for this movie when I saw Django Unchanined and I thought "This... actually looks decent." But at the same time, this really doesn't sound like it would be up my alley - especially since it sounds like Bay was up to his tricks: Misogyny, too much style, unlikable characters. Still, this does sound like it might be worth a rental.