Pain & Gain: Mark Wahlberg and The Rock Are American Idiots Gone Bad
Meanwhile, private investigator Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris) and Kershaw stake out the gang to try to persuade Miami police to take their tale seriously. What, the cops don't believe sadistic beefcakes in wacky disguises kidnapped a Colombian and nearly beat him to death with dildos over something other than drugs?
It's easy to see why Miami police brush them off: The story is unbelievable. During one particularly absurd chase scene, Bay stops the action to remind viewers that "this is still a true story." Perhaps that's why the director was so drawn to this project, so committed to telling the Sun Gym Gang saga on the big screen that he agreed to direct another Transformers cash cow in return for Paramount Pictures' financial backing. Maybe he wanted to show his critics they're wrong, that crazy action-movie schemes with explosions and car chases aren't just the stuff of flashy summer flicks―that they exist in real life too.
But even though this story needs no embellishment, Bay can't help himself. He adds wild sidebars and shoot-outs to the already-insane material. At one point, a character feeds his own severed toe to a Chihuahua. Bay injects slow-mo effects, Instagram-esque freeze-frames, and B-movie-style gore. (Those who remember the Sun Gym Gang's murdered victims probably won't appreciate seeing one of their heads explode like a pumpkin beneath a falling barbell weight.) These cheap tricks work like movie steroids, unnaturally inflating the appearance of what's happening onscreen―and diminishing its overall, uh, potency.
When the story runs off the rails and crashes headfirst into a too-perfect ending, it's because Bay was led astray by the same things that got the Sun Gym Gang into this mess in the first place: superficiality, ambition, and the belief that reality just isn't good enough.
Pain & Gain opens this Friday, April 26.