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Pain And Gain

 April 26, 2013

Taking a brief respite from movies in which giant robots break things, Michael Bay brings the world’s arthouses Pain And Gain, a smaller, more personal sort of film where giant men break things. Specifically, Dwayne “Given The Nature Of This Role And The Many Immediately Preceding And Following It, It Remains Unclear Why I Can No Longer Be Called ‘The Rock’” Johnson, but also to a noticeably smaller extent Mark Wahlberg, whose declarations of “I’m hot! I’m big!” speak to insecurities in his character that are even more apparent whenever they’re forced to stand next to each other.

Still, that size disparity affords Bay numerous opportunities to whip out those low angles he loves—along with slow-mo, SnorriCams, and other assorted, heightened reality trickery—on what is otherwise a grounded-in-facts true story of two bodybuilders who robbed a tinier, Tony Shalhoub-type guy. (Shalhoub, by the way, makes an early bid for line of 2013 with “You know who invented salad? Poor people.) Anthony Mackie comes along for the ride and Rebel Wilson-supplied dick jokes, Ed Harris shows up to squint like a badass, and all in all, Bay harkens back to the zippier, fast-cars-and-loose-recognizably-human-relationships buzz of his Bad Boys era. You can tell it’s back to basics, because Wahlberg, Johnson, et al. only walk coolly away from one explosion.