Director Michael Bay trades in the Transformers for body builders in his latest (and definitely not greatest), Pain & Gain. The movie is based on the morbidly outlandish true story of the Sun Gym Gang, headed by Miami personal trainer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg). Obsessed with the American Dream but sick of working hard while catering to the rich and famous, Daniel hatches a plan to capture and extort one of his wealthy clients (Tony Shalhoub). The extraordinary real details of the case (think explosions, barbecued body parts, and a stripper who believes she's been invited to join the CIA) are bizarre and fascinating. It's a shame the movie is so overloaded with silly, gratuitous slow-motion shots and over-the-top action sequences that the style overshadows the story.
The film takes place in the early '90s in Miami, and the vibrant colors reflect the era but not the dark story that Pain & Gain is telling. When manipulative Daniel convinces ex-addict Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and roided-out pal Adrian (Anthony Mackie) to help him with his plan, the ensuing disaster is gruesome, dark, and depressing. What nobody ever told Daniel is that to achieve success, you have to be smart as well as a hard worker. (Wahlberg does however, look amazing, even giving a tongue-in-cheek shout-out to his modeling days when he sports Calvin Klein briefs in one scene.) The movie could have ended several times before it does, but it just keeps going, as the details get progressively sloppier and the plot holes keep piling up. Get more of my thoughts on Pain & Gain after the jump.