Friday, April 26, 2013
Pain and Gain 
CNS/USCCB (J. Mulderig) review
RogerEbert.com (S. Adams) review
Pain and Gain  (directed by Michael Bay, screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely based on the magazine reporting on the case in question of Pete Collins) is about such a searingly crass (but unbelievably true) crime story that it probably justifies making some kind of film about it. Yet the violence (again often boneheadedly executed) does get to such hard-R levels that the film is definitely not for the squeamish.
The film, set in the mid-1990s, is about Miami body builder, South Florida trendy fitness gym trainer Daniel Lugo (played in the film by Mark Wahlberg) who had always lived by a "no gain without pain" weightlifting ethos. As a result, Danny gets sick of hearing a scrawny, balding, 60ish, not even close to benching his weight, 1/2 Colombian 1/2 Jewish businessman client of his, named Victor Kershaw (played by Tony Shalhoub) bragging about all the money, hot cars, hot boats and hot women he has.
After going to one of those those "Get Rich by Sheer Will" motivational seminars headlined by "Johnny Wu" (played hilariously by Ken Jeong), Danny decides that he's a "Doer" rather than a "Don't-er," and comes up with a "3 fingered plan" -- (1) come up with an idea, (2) execute (DO) IT and (3) "F-U all you suckers / live life rich afterwards!" -- to (1) kidnap said Victor Kershaw, (2) get him to sign away ALL OF HIS MONEY (cars, homes and boats...) to him and (3) dispose of Victor.
To help him kidnap Victor, Danny assembles a small crew, including himself and fellow gym-trainers Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie) who needs some extra cash because his constant steroid use has finally made his (blank...) inoperative (given him E.D...), and a reasonably good-hearted but not even close to (or even in the same neighborhood as) "the sharpest tool in the shed," buff former ex-con named Paul Doyle (played by Dwayne Johnson). Much, often involving stunning ineptitude, ensues...
So despite "almost" getting away with it all ... they don't. Victor, survives his ordeal, hires a private-eye (played by Ed Harris) after Miami police, after seeing his Colombian background don't want much to do with his case ... and the three get caught, two of which Daniel and Adrian, finally getting the death penalty for their crimes (no kidding and by the end, they've racked-up enough of a list that by law they've more than crossed the threshhold...), while Paul, a good if stupid, stupid soul, gets 15-years and a life of forever saying that he's really, really, yes, really sorry.
If one isn't reminded -- at the beginning, in a key point in the middle and at the end of the story -- that this film really is based on a true story, one would simply not believe it.
Finally, I would say that along with the recent film Spring Breakers , the film does remind viewers in a stark, indeed searing, sort of way, that "money isn't everything." But are we so utterly stoned/desensitized as as society that we have to be reminded of this in such an utterly unforgettable sort of way?
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