First, it should be noted that I haven't enjoyed a Michael Bay film in fifteen years. Not since Bruce Willis commanded manly tears from audiences around the globe in 1998's Armageddon. That's a long fucking time ago. Sadly, the man who gave us Bad Boys and The Rock, went ape shit crazy once he got his hands on +$100 million film budgets. What followed was a series of unbelievable crap fests: Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys II, The Island, and those god awful Transformer movies. I've basically spent the past decade avoiding Michael Bay films like the plague. With that being said, I now have a confession to make: Michael Bay's new film Pain & Gain was absolutely amazing. I seriously loved every minute of it.
Pain & Gain is Michael Bay's low budget (made on a "measly" $26 million) return to his roots. After spending most of the 2000's directing computer animated robots trashing major metropolitan cities, Bay wanted to get back to basics, shooting real actors in front of a camera in his backyard. Of course when you're an uber successful Hollywood mogul like Bay, your backyard is a ginormous mansion in Miami. Either way, Pain & Gain is easily one of the most ridiculous films I've ever seen, both in it's content and execution, and makes for one hell of a entertaining movie.
|The Departed, pt2.|
Honestly, as great as the cast is, Michael Bay is Pain & Gain's true star. His trademark action disorienting directing style, and uncanny eye for projecting iconic visuals onscreen take this already surreal tale to another level. The gratuitous use of slow motion, explosions, low angle shots implying alpha male dominance, explosions, the blatantly sexist objectification of women, more explosions, shoving the American flag in as many shots as possible, ridiculously saturated color schemes, and did I mention explosions already? These techniques are Michael Bay's bread and butter and his indulgence in them have made his recent films all but unwatchable...but Pain & Gain is a different story. It's like Bay woke up from a 15 year nap, more energized and refreshingly self aware. On this project, he's not just trashing his dimwitted protagonists, he's making fun of himself as well. With Pain & Gain, Bay embraces the frat boy, former Victoria's Secret commercial director stymie detractors (myself included) have thrown at him over the years and he triumphantly responds by saying, "Sup?"
People are criticizing this film for glamorizing the real life tragedy that took place. I see their point but have to disagree. This film doesn't celebrate these imbeciles, instead it showcases and underscores the sheer ridiculousness of these events ever having happened, in a Don King, "...only in America!" kind of way. Some film critics are bashing Pain & Gain because they just love hating on Michael Bay and see this film as a poor man's version of Fargo. I say this is Bay's Spring Breakers, but jacked on steroids. Welcome back Michael Bay. It's been too long man.