14. Pain & Gain
Michael Bay’s best film in years utilises the charisma and comedy chops of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Mark Wahlberg, as well as a crazier than fiction true story, to great effect. The star wattage of the leads is relied upon heavily, as the pair play muscle head thugs who capture a shady businessman and extort him out of his worldly wealth.
With less accomplished and likeable performers in the role, Pain And Gain could be typically amoral Michael Bay fare, but Johnson and Wahlberg approach the characters without judgement. What follows has the director’s usual allotment of big, noisy action, but a degree of nuance, too. It aims to be a satire of our grasping, materialistic times, and while it falls a little short of its lofty goals, it does a fine job of mixing black comedy with show stopping setpieces.
The film loses its grip on the true story a little as things unfold as Bay fails to resist adding ever more to the pot, but the high quality cast and intriguing concept more than make up for these deficiencies.