Pain & Gain Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

Meet Daniel Lugo.  He’s a man with a mission.  And a dream.  To be the best he can in every endeavor he chooses.  Right now he’s doing inverted sit-ups outside the fashionable health club he works at.  Soon he’ll be running from the law.  But things weren’t always this crazy.

Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain

A rare combination of sweet and gritty, with some genuine laughs thrown in, PAIN AND GAIN is a fun film that, as the voiceover at the beginning tells you, is based on a true story.  Actually, there are several voiceovers, as various characters narrate the story, often taking turns and switching up mid-scene.  Of course, there’s Daniel (Wahlberg), a loveable lug who hopes to build his bank account like he builds his biceps.  He gains the motivation he needs when he attends a self help seminar run by Johnny Wu (played by THE HANGOVER’s Ken Jeong).  With the motivational slogan “Get Off of Your Lazy American Ass!” burned into his psyche, Daniel hits on the idea of kidnapping and robbing one of the health clubs customers, the very wealthy Victor Kershaw (Tony Shaloub, always a treat).  Victor, too, is a self made man whose conversations with Daniel during work out sessions his triggered the younger man’s imagination. To assist him in his plan, Daniel enlists two weightlifting pals.  Adrian (Anthony Mackie) owes his changed physique to Daniel (and a few steroids), while Paul (Johnson) is a recently released convict who has found Jesus.  As a trio the group rival the Three Stooges in incompetence.  Yet they soldier on.

Weekend box office Mark Wahlberg in Pain & Gain

If the name “Michael Bay” in the film’s description scared you off I urge you to come back.  Minus the presence of robots, battleships or Will Smith, Bay has taken on a straight storytelling project and succeeds.  The film is well paced and even the few obligatory slo-mo shots seem to fit.  Bay is helped by an excellent cast, led by Wahlberg and Johnson.  Both have done comedy before and their chops show here.  Shaloub shines as a victim who can’t get the police to believe his story.  Ed Harris drops by as retired police officer Ed Dubois and Rebel Wilson has a fun bit as a nurse in an erectile dysfunction clinic.  The script, adapted by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely from a magazine piece, is funny and tight.

Pain & Gain

Technically the film packs many of the punches you’d expect in a Michael Bay film.  The action is top notch, the explosions loud and the photography razor sharp.  Bay and his “Transformers 2” cinematographer Ben Seresin take the rich, sunny Miami locale and turn the film into a travelogue.  Quick editing by Tom Muldoon and Joel Negron keep the visuals moving and the musical score by frequent Bay collaborator Steve Jablonski helps set the mood.  Like a finely mixed PED cocktail, you’ll find that if you combine all of these elements you’ll have a movie that will take you on a ride more exhausting, and more entertaining, than a two hour cardio workout!


Video:  Michael Bay films are exactly why Blu-ray exists.  The colors are bright, the image sharp and clear and the film, presented in a 2:40.1 aspect ratio, jumps off the screen.  The shots of Miami and its surrounding waters are beautiful.

Audio:  I’ll repeat what I said above.  Presented in Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the audio is cleanly mixed with dialogue, music and explosions coming through loud and clear.

Pain and Gain 3

The “A” Game: Michael Bay’s “Pain and Gain”

The only extra on the disc is an eight-part featurette that details the making of the film and highlighs some of the characters in it.  The eight segments are:

Still a True Story: Ripped from the Headlines (11:26):  Ed Dubois, the film’s technical advisor, joins the cast and crew in telling the true story behind the film.

Back to Basics:  Michael Bay’s Vision (8:30):  A look at Bay’s creative process.  A very informative look at an often discounted filmmaker.

American Dreamer:  Daniel Lugo (5:24):  A look at Mark Wahlberg’s film character and his preparation for the role.

Passion Player: Paul Doyle (5:26):  Same as above, focusing on Dwayne Johnson.

Dirty Work:  Adrian Doorbal (3:38):  Ditto with Anthony Mackie

Victimless Crime: Victor Kershaw (5:43):  Hello Tony Shaloub.  Also a short behind the scenes look at one of the more intense scenes in the film.

Diamonds in the Rough: Locations (8:45):  This featurette allows the cast and crew to show the sights of sunny Florida and various locations, including inside Michael Bay’s house.

The Real Deal:  Law Enforcement (8:43):  A look at the way the local law dealt with the real case and how they are portrayed on screen.


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