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Michael Bay
Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shalhoub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry , Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson
Writing Credits:
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Pete Collins (based on the magazine articles by)

Their American Dream Is Bigger Than Yours.

A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.

Box Office:
$26 million.
Opening Weekend
$20.244 million on 3277 screens.
Domestic Gross
$49.786 million.

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 129 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 8/27/2013

• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Pain & Gain [Blu-Ray] (2013)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 13, 2013)

Surprising but true: prior to 2013, Michael Bay last made a non-Transformers movie in 2005 when he released The Island. Since the first Transformers flick in 2007, he stayed focused on that franchise.

Until now, as 2013’s Pain & Gain represents a change of pace for Bay – until 2014’s Transformers 4, at least. More reality-based than anything Bay’s done since… ever, Pain loosely adapts true events. Set in Miami circa 1994, Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) fantasizes about living the dream: hot women, lots of money, and a chiseled physique. He works out constantly to achieve the latter, and the handsome, self-confident Daniel does fine with the ladies, but he finds himself constantly in economic distress.

This leads to legal issues due to financial scams, which finds him in a gig as a personal trainer at Sun Gym. He does well for himself there but remains poor and eager for the slice of the American dream he believes he deserves.

Daniel trains cocky, arrogant entrepreneur Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). Inadvertently, Kershaw’s bragging leads to his downfall, as Daniel decides to kidnap the mogul and extort cash from him. To assist, Daniel recruits fellow gym rats Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) to execute their plan.

After a few screw-ups, the guys abduct Kershaw, but their scheme doesn’t go off as Daniel promised. Kershaw proves to be a tough nut to crack, so Daniel and his partners find themselves on a deeper, darker path to riches.

Over his nearly 20 years as a feature film director, Michael Bay has taken lumps nearly non-stop. I don’t want to apologize for Bay, as he deserves some of the negativity that comes his way. Boasting a filmography packed with entries that favor style over substance, it can be tough to defend the director, especially after the general crumminess of the three Transformer flicks to date.

That said, I do think Bay gets more criticism than he deserves, and I suspect that if almost anyone else made Pain, it would’ve gotten a warmer reception. No one will mistake this for a work of greatness, but it provides a pretty entertaining little cautionary tale of greed and stupidity.

Bay does self-satire pretty well, as he pokes fun at his usual stylistic excesses to give us a fun parody of the broad, hyperactive action he favors. Some may think Bay doesn’t intend to spoof himself, but I disagree; I think it’s clear he’s in on the joke, and he seems to enjoy the chance to have his cake and blow it up, too.

Which works nicely during the film’s lighter moments – well, as light as a tale of kidnapping and torture can be, I guess. Pain earned some criticism for the way some feel it delights in the agony suffered by Kershaw, and I can see that. The flick doesn’t make him very sympathetic, so the potential for the audience to view Daniel and company as “heroes” and Kershaw as a “villain” exists.

However, I can’t imagine too many people actually see it that way, mainly due to the portrayal of Daniel and his pals. They’re all played as such meatheaded, greedy narcissists that I think it’d be hard to interpret them as “the good guys”. If people want to criticize Bay and claim that he glorified the criminals, they can go ahead, but I don’t see it; Daniel and the others bear few redeeming qualities and end up punished severely for their actions. (Kershaw also becomes more likable as the film progresses.)

I do think Pain works best when it sticks with the lighter side of the tale. It’s more entertaining when Daniel and the others come across as a ‘roided out Three Stooges; when the movie goes really dark in its third act, it loses some of its entertainment value.

This comes partially from the film’s length, though. At 129 minutes, Pain doesn’t run forever, but the movie threatens to enter “sensory overload” territory, as its non-stop array of violence and decadence becomes wearisome after a while. I think the flick could’ve lost half an hour and been more effective; like I said, it fares best when it stays with a lighter tone.

The actors all do well in their roles. Wahlberg, Mackie and Johnson are comedic enough to make their performances amusing, but they don’t veer into the realm of winking at the camera; I can’t call their portrayals realistic, but they avoid camp self-parody and work nicely. The versatile Shalhoub digs into Victor well, and Harris manages to ground the shenanigans.

Pain can shows its influences a little too obviously at times - GoodFellas, Boogie Nights - but it still holds together on its own. It’s been a long time since I last enjoyed a Michael Bay movie, but Pain turns into a pretty effective dark comedy.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus D

Pain & Gain appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Don’t expect many problems from this presentation.

Overall sharpness looked fine. A few wide shots looked a smidgen soft, but those occurred infrequently, so the majority of the flick came across as accurate and well-defined. Shimmering and jaggies failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also never popped up in this clean transfer.

Pain went with a stylized palette that favored big, garish tones. It used some of the standard orange and teal, but it also developed heavy greens and yellows. These made sense for the film’s larger than life feel and looked solid within the flick’s design. Blacks seemed tight and dense, and low-light shots provided strong smoothness and clarity. Only the minor soft spots knocked this down to “B+” consideration.

Though without the constant razzmatazz of Michael Bay’s big action flicks, Pain came with a vivid soundfield. It used all the channels to blast music at us, and appropriate effects cropped up around the spectrum in a convincing manner. Those elements meshed together in a concise way and helped give us a vivid sense of place and events.

Audio quality satisfied. Music was bright and bold, while speech came across as natural and distinctive. Effects seemed accurate and dynamic, with clean highs and deep lows. Again, the track wasn’t quite ambitious enough to make it to “A”-level, but it worked well for the material.

Although Michael Bay has been a long-time supporter of bonus materials, we get absolutely none on the Blu-ray – not even a trailer. The package does include a DVD copy of Pain, though; it also lacks extras.

Too long and too inconsistent, Pain & Gain doesn’t offer a great film, but it’s more entertaining than I expected. Michael Bay shows a delightful willingness to self-satirize and that leads to a mostly involving violent romp. The Blu-ray provides very good picture and audio but lacks supplements. With a high MSRP, I can’t recommend a purchase of this one – not with zero bonus features - but it’s worth a rental.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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