Movie Review: Pain & Gain’ doesn’t make it easy for viewers

It’s hard to find someone to pull for in the new movie “Pain & Gain.”

Daniel (Mark Wahlberg), Paul (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian (Anthony Mackie) are bodybuilders who believe they deserve more of the good things in life.

Daniel is the ringleader, who’s prone to spout self-help lines. If he deserves it, the universe will serve it.

Victor (Tony Shalhoub) is one of Daniel’s wealthy clients at the gym. He’s sacrificed and worked to build a fortune, and he’s happy to brag about it to anybody who will listen.

As far as Daniel’s concerned, the universe has served up Victor. He and his friends decide to kidnap Victor, then torture him into signing over all of his worldly possessions.

It’d be nice to be able to pull for Victor, but he’s such an incredible jerk that it’s hard to want nice – or even not-bad – things to happen to him.

The three heavyweights have a hapless quality going for them. As they keep trying and failing to capture Victor, they become almost likable.

But that won’t do.

An extra layer of weirdness hangs over everything on screen because we’re told at the beginning that this is a true story.

In real life, three guys on steroids actually tortured a guy at a warehouse full of sex toys. That idea kept messing with my head.

“Pain and Gain” was directed by Michael Bay, but there’s a heavy Quentin Tarantino feel to the whole thing, especially as the violence mounts.

This is a hard movie to like, but it is entertaining. It passes the most basic test because, from start to finish, I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I was thinking, How crazy can this get?

Ed Harris brings some moral authority as a private investigator who accepts a case that no one else wants. But I don’t think there are any lessons to learn in “Pain & Gain,” other than the fact life can go haywire without any notice.

Come to think of it, that’s an important lesson. After the movie, I went home and told my family how much I loved them.

I give “Pain & Gain” a C plus.

It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, as well as Malcos in Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.

Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.

RoadKill Bill Wizard 106.7. He gives it a C minus.

‘It’s a difficult kind of movie. It’s not for me.’

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

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