Pain & Gain

Pain & Gain ★★★★½

"Unfortunately, this is a true story..."

Peak Michael Bay, the exaggerated overconfident maximalism of his style used to aggressively critique the predatory, desperate nature of capitalism. To have the bare minimum in a system that requires one to pay for the bare necessities is to essentially have no material possessions and no agency to pursue personal interests, be they artistic, spiritual or individual in any meaningful sense. The capitalist philosophy is so ingrained in the American conscious that even if one pursues individual passions, they are worthless unless their endeavor contributes capital to directly perpetuate the system.

And yet even as wealth is marginalized to the 1%, the American culture is one of pure materialism, promoting excess for the masses even as such commodities are kept exclusive. The unfounded promise of the American Dream leaves only two options: either be a "do-er" or a "don't-er," either be someone who passively accepts their capitalist servitude or someone who futilely rages against the machine, sacrificing their human values to claim their portion of the exclusivity pie. These are bad people—or, rather, they're bad at being people—but their anger and discontent is the direct product of being promised everything and given nothing. The real tragedy is not that they have no remorse, nor that they don't understand what they've done wrong. Their punishments are so heavily overblown out of proportion, as the court clearly recognizes their rebellious actions as enemy of the system, and effectively repurposes their criminality against the state as a reinforcement of the state's power.

"...and that's the American dream."


vulgar auteurism

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