All pain, no gain

We’ve all got an American Dream. Some folks just want to be famous. Others wants to be rich. While others still are just trying to do better than those that came before them. This idea of the American Dream is built on the premise that hard work, perseverance, and a little bit of luck can allow anyone to achieve anything. But some folks want to take short cuts and can’t be satisfied with the idea that they are the reason for their less than stellar lot in life.

A perfect example of this is the members of the Sun Gym Gang. These guys weren’t professional gangbangers or anything. Just a bunch roided up bodybuilders in Miami with rocks for brains. In the mid-90s, these meatheads wanted their wallets to be as thick as their necks. In order to achieve their goals, they decided to kidnap, extort, torture, and finally kill some of their more lucrative clientele in the hopes of taking those people’s fortunes all the way to their own bank accounts. Pain & Gain tells the story of how the Sun Gym Gang came to be, why they did what they did, and how they were finally brought to justice, mostly by their own greed and stupidity.

On paper, this looks like it could be an interesting premise for a movie. A story about bumbling, wannabe gangsters who are their own worst enemy. How justice prevails in even the most unlikely of scenarios. And that redemption can be found just about anywhere. Instead, we are reminded why Michael Bay is mostly a joke in many Hollywood circles.

Pain & Gain is the perfect example of a movie that doesn’t know what it wants to be and where real life is not more entertaining than fiction. The commercials would have you think this movie might be an action-comedy. But the movie bounces around the genre gamut every 15 minutes to the point that when you walk out of the theater, you’re not sure what you saw. It goes from comedy to documentary to drama to dark comedy to action to docu-drama to crime thriller all in the course of its 2 hour and 9 minute run-time. I almost expected Mark Wahlberg to break into song and dance at some point it was so all over the place.

And the hodgepodge of genres isn’t the only painful part about this film. The character arcs for everyone on the screen is accelerated at such a pace to fit into the long course of real life events the movie wishes to emulate that you start to think that everyone portrayed in the movie has some personality disorder beyond their obvious stupidity. Mind you, these aren’t characters you want to root for anyway as these are real-life death row convicts now, but they are nowhere near interesting enough to have had a movie made about them.

As much as the star studded cast of Mark Wahlberg, Ed Harris, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Tony Shalhoub, and more tried to do their best with the scripts given to them, at the end of the day it was not enough. Pain & Gain will have you holding your head in your hands as you try to figure out why you dropped $12 on such a convoluted and unentertaining waste of time. I spent literally the last hour of the movie staring more at my watch, watching my life waste away, than at the movie as I was bored to tears by this unrelenting piece of slop slapped on the big screen. This is just another reminder that unless he’s blowing something up, Michael Bay should go sit in a corner and think of the horrible things he’s done to the cinema-viewing community, Pain & Gain being the latest on that long list of crap.

SCORE: 2.5