Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain is actually based on a real-life 1999 Miami New Times article series written by Pete Collins, about “a gang of local bodybuilders with a penchant for steroids, strippers, and quick cash. They later became known as Miami’s ‘Sun Gym gang’ and quickly developed a taste for blood and money.” (Click the following link if you want to read Collins’ ‘Pain & Gain’ articles – they’re pretty great.)

The film stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Daniel Lugo and Paul Doyle, the duo who become the aforementioned criminally-inclined bodybuilders; Anthony Mackie plays their cohort Adrian Doorbal, Ed Harris is the “villain,”  while comedic actors like Rebel Wilson (Pitch Perfect), Ken Jeong (Community), and Tony Shalhoub (Monk) all bring the funny.

Visually and tonally speaking, Pain & Gain shares a lot in common with Bad Boys II, Michael Bay’s other Miami-based action/comedy film. This includes the color palette, glamour shots of hot bodies and exotic locales – and of course, trademark Bay chase scenes and explosions. That J.J. Abrams-esque lens flare effect you see? Well, you have the Transformers films (now also starring Wahlberg) to thank for that.

Then again, the trailer seems to indicate that Bay is trying out some new techniques as well, as evidenced by the multiple “harness cam” stylistic shots that open and are featured all throughout the trailer. Of course, whether using tactics new or old , visuals never were Michael Bay’s weak point – that Achilles heel tends to belong to the quality of his films’ scripts (as in, ‘lack thereof’).


Unlike Transformers, the script for Pain & Gain – written by Captain America: The First Avenger scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely – seems to offer a solid narrative arc (the rise and fall of some unqualified would-be gangsters), some effective comedic beats, and a pronounced (and funny) riff on physical fitness mentality. It’ll be curious to see if the film goes on to chronicle some of the darker moments highlighted in Pete Collins’ article series, as the reign of the Sun Gym Gang was anything BUT a bloodless affair.

With the combination of the cast invovled, the action, laughs – and yes, those muscled bodies and the invevitable “Bay bombshell” women that will go with them – it looks like Michael Bay’s “small film” could turn out to be one of the more widely-appreciated projects the director has put out in years (i.e., since his Bad Boys days).

Pain & Gain will be in theaters on April 26, 2013.

Source: Michael Bay