Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain ★★★★

Pain & Gain is Michael Bay's masterpiece. It's everything about his style that he's often critiqued for but depicted with a sense of knowing commentary on this dude-bro perception of the American Dream.

Like a lot of Bays films it's juvenile, it's grotesque, it's got lots of muscles and guns and cars and women, but unlike other Bay things, the protagonists that revel in this world of hypermasculinity aren't to be celebrated, they're bad guys. They feel like they're entitled to wealth and prosperity because of how American society rewards those values and mindset, so they use that to justify their violence and kidnapping. It's like that conversation people had about Joker, and if Todd Phillips sided with the Joker; yes, directors can make movies where the protagnonists clash with their own ideals.

Bay crafts something here that's deranged as all hell. It's as warped and fucked up as the characters worldview is. It's such a cynical look at everybody, not one character is likeable or redeemed. Bay portays everything with a sickly sense of glee which is what makes it funny.

These guys are idiot criminals who make dumb mistakes constantly, but rather than making us feel sorry for them and root for them, we laugh at their misery because it's all stupid. And the cast is so great. Mark Wahlberg is in maybe his best role I've seen him in yet. Like other great "rise and fall" stories, he's able to be super charasmatic and confident, yet incredibly unhinged and fragile. Dwayne Johnston is fantastic. This is right before The Rock took on a more loveable, leading man status and this is probably the bridge between that shift in his persona. He get to be brutally tough and stoic, but he's also innocent and a bit dim. And finally somebody let Anthony Mackie have fun in a movie. That dude is always in dramas or action thrillers, but dude is really funny.

Bay leans all in, there's super slo-motion shots, there's saturated as hell colours, lots of dramatic lighting and pronounced angles, there's flashy title cards, it's everything you'd expect times 10. But that's great, Bay is a truely unhinged director, he enters a style that's so over the top and bold that it could only come from him.

Mouse Hunt #3 -4. Watch a supposedly crazy action comedy with an average lower than 3

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