Saturday, 11 May 2013

PAIN AND GAIN - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Can you believe it? A genuinely terrific movie from Michael Bay.


Pain and Gain (2013) ****
Dir: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shaloub, Ed Harris, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong, Peter Stormare

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Who'd a even thunk it, eh? Sumtin' good from Michael Bay.
He be da' man da' critics hate, not me no mo', his flick be great.
Yew cain't go wrong wit' a solid scrip', dem mighty words, be mighty hip.
Yew gots yer nice pumped-up buff boys an' plenny o' babes to be their toys,
an' when doze dawgs do super-bad shit, dey not think at all cuz dey be doin' they's bit.
Dey kill an' torture an' gits poontang dat be fly, but if'n dey don't watch it, dey's gunna hang sky high.
I gots no idee why I'se tellin' yew dis' way, I guess I jess be tokin' dat crack o' Michael Bay.

-- Dat Hip Michael Bay Hop by G-man Klym-Q

Okay, so let me put this out there and up front. I loved Michael Bay's Armageddon. This is no guilty pleasure. I think it's a genuinely entertaining kick-ass action-disaster epic and though I wasn't a fan of either Bad Boys or The Rock, I certainly didn't mind them. Armageddon's something else, though. Until now, it was his best directed movie. It had me on the edge of my seat and it even had a lot more heart than one would expect from a testosterone-infused movie like that.

Because of Armageddon, I suffered through Pearl Harbor and Bad Boys II, then managed to get through with neither hating nor liking The Island and even enjoying the first Transformers movie on its own geek-boy terms. The subsequent sequels, however, exhausted me to the point where I planned to throw the towel in on Bay. Pain and Gain was so low on my radar, I was planning to skip it altogether.

Then I saw Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby and this boy needed something, anything to cleanse his oh-so delicate palate after witnessing the coat-hanger abortion wrought upon the memory of poor F. Scott Fitzgerald. Seeing that Pain and Gain was the only recent movie I hadn't seen, I figured I'd give it a whirl. Even if it turned out to be awful, it would have gunfire, explosions and car chases to make me feel alive again.

I got one hell of a lot more than that.

Mark Wahlberg & Dwayne Johnson are BUFF BOYS.
The thing is, I so seldom see contemporary American movies that give me a total rush of goose flesh, so when it happens, I have no choice but to embrace the movie with the fervour of a cum-deprived closet case working a glory hole in Boys Town. And, as a sidenote, there's plenty here for closet cases and even those not so inclined. The buff bodies in this picture are mouth watering. So are the babes.

I digress.

Pain and Gain comes from a terrific screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. The talented duo penned a decent script for the Captain America movie that, for my money, had all the life sucked out of it by a super-dull director. Well, no worries here. Even at his most bombastic, Bay is seldom dull (save for the exhausting Transformers II & III). Bay has somehow, at this mid-stage of his career, hit a genuine artistic home run. Rooted in the true crime story about a group of bumbling body builders in Miami who engaged in one of the most sickening crimes imaginable during the 90s, Bay takes the thrilling script and infuses it with all the finer attributes he possesses as a director.

The movie is compelling from its opening frames and as the story proceeds, we sit there agog as the tale keeps taking completely unimaginable turns that are so horrific, hilarious and downright nasty that this might well be one of the year's best American films. Lord knows it's got some of the punchiest, meanest dialogue I've experienced in awhile,


The script includes a series of clever POVs from the story's major players and presents what could have been totally convoluted. Most directors would get lost in the delectable mire of low order crime and sleaze. Not Bay, though. He juggles the balls of perspective with the skill and artistry of a true Master. In a lot of ways, it reminds me of William Friedkin's astounding Killer Joe from last year - mainly because both pictures allow us to follow the stories of such completely reprehensible characters with no real moral fibre and yet, in spite of this, both films eke out a sense of humanity from the lowest order of our species.

Pain and Gain has so many moments when your jaw will be hitting the floor with disbelief that I refuse to reveal any more of the story than I do in the following imagining of a pitch to studio executives.

"So guys, we've got these three loser body builders seeking a better life, so they do what anyone would - they kidnap and torture people to suck them dry of all their finances and worldly goods. Oh yeah, and the main character, the leader of the gang, is a former scumbag who ripped a whole bunch of seniors off for their life savings."

Who in hell would have Green-lit this movie?


Well, sometimes it must really help to be Michael Bay and my hat is off to him for making what is one of the best acted and directed crime pictures in years. This movie is so far away from the sort of thing a successful populist like Michael Bay would choose to do and then, do it so well. It's a crazy, risky and unbelievably sleazy movie.

And I loved it - to death.

Have I mentioned that yet?

"Pain and Gain" is in wide theatrical release via Paramount Pictures.