Pain & Gain

Out Now On-Demand

Their American dream is bigger than yours.

Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and high-octane director Michael Bay (Transformers) bring this comedy about a pair of knucklehead bodybuilders in Florida, who get mixed up in a doomed extortion and kidnapping scheme. Based on a true story.

Pain & Gain marks a change of pace for Bay - the movie's budget is only $US25 million (a tiny budget relative to Transformers). The script is based on a story uncovered in a series of newspaper articles by investigative journalist Pete Collins. 


Directed by

Written by

Action, Comedy, True Story & Biography


Rating: R18 Violence, offensive language, drug use & sex scenes


Official Site

It's telling that Michael Bay's notion of a scaled-down, pared-back movie experience is a dark, violent comedy bulging at the seams with testosterone. All of Bay's films exist in a glistening wonderland of toned bods and over-the-top action, and Pain & Gain has plenty of the former but little of the latter.

So, despite the action-heavy trailer suggesting otherwise, anyone looking for Bad Boys or Transformers-style Bay-hem will be left wanting. But the welcome surprise is the amount of decent laughs in the film. It's easy to imagine this story being told by the Coen bros, but with Bay at the helm, the execution is perhaps slightly less cynical. Although they do some pretty awful things, Pain & Gain has love for its trio of main characters, and the film benefits for it. 

Dwayne Johnson gets the funniest moments in the film, his giant eyes projecting a vulnerability that supersedes his giant body. All of Wahlberg's best performances since Boogie Nights have been some kind of spin on Dirk Diggler's combination of ambition and fear, and that suits his character here. His ridiculously huge arms never stop being distracting though.

Pain & Gain outstays its welcome by a good thirty minutes. It fails to give its female characters anything interesting to do and features a misguided late-arriving bid for philosophical relevance. But it's also an entertaining spin on macho theatrics with amusing lead performances and a bizarre true story to tell. Definitely worth the effort.

Hollywood Reporter


A ham-fisted, thick-skulled comic caper.

Los Angeles Times


It makes for some stupid/slap-shtick fun of the Stooges variety.

New York Times


It all leaves you pondering whether you have just seen a monumentally stupid movie or a brilliant movie about the nature and consequences of stupidity.



It's like a giant sculpture that is so strange and off-putting, it's instantly, intriguingly post-modern. Swept up in the film's pile-driving self-assurance, even Bay-haters may absorb the pain to enjoy the gain.

Time Out New York


It’s M.B. business as usual: You’ve got your jacked-up, Jerry Bruckheimer–sanctioned aesthetic that jettisons all editorial coherence.



Bay can be a master of exuberant chaos, but here the violence mostly lands with a sickening thud, which is fitting, one supposes, but also ultimately numbing.

Reality Vs Fiction

Now I have to be honest, Michael Bay is not my favourite director but I went into this feature with an open mind. I should of gone in with my eyes closed.

I get that it's a comedy of errors and I get the darker connotations of the story and I also get the perplexities of playing the characters in a dark comedy based on a true story, and I can live with all that. But there was something missing, something I still cannot put my finger on. Perhaps I need to watch it again to really appreciate the finer nuances. But I already lost time I'll never get back watching it the first time.

I am sure Mr Bay and the A-list cast are proud of what they achieved and I'm not trying to belittle anything or anyone here. Just laying out an honest opinion.

Maybe it was the setting, or the version of events that poured out into a heap before my eyes. Maybe it was something else that you can't change in a true story feature film. But I would not have minded if they tried a little harder to [Hollywood it up].

I appreciate the production and I have spent hard earned money on worse but you may want to wait for the DVD or BR. A disappointed but not angry 2/5.

Michael Bay reveals he actually has a self-conscious

Based on a bizarre true story, Pain & Gain is a perfect summation of Michael Bay's sensibility as a filmmaker. Filled with racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitic jibes and juvenile humour, Pain & Gain may well be the director's most personal work - a celebration of how low brow his awareness is as a storyteller.

Working with his cheapest budget since his debut feature Bad Boys, Bay has surprisingly made his most thought-provoking movie. Billed as a dark comedy drama, a trio of ambitious bodybuilders kidnap a wealthy client, beat him to a pulp and force him to sign over his assets. There are some nasty set pieces which Bay confidently executes. The trio's actions are brutal, a violent extortion just to achieve the proverbial American Dream.

Mark Wahlberg produces one of his best performances in years as the trio's leader Daniel Lugo. But it's the performance of Dwayne Johnson, as the gentle giant Paul who provides the much needed laughs in an uneven satire.

As expected in a Michael Bay film, women are just mere objects of ornate furnishings. Which is a shame, because Bar Paly as the trio's female "operative" gives probably the most likeable female performance in any Bay movie.

Overblown in style, Michael Bay does his best but lacks the maturity of perhaps Coen Bros sensibly to tell such an over the top story. Which is ironic given how long the director has been in the game. But his obsession for homophobic jokes sums up his grasp of movie comedy.

Pain & Gain is a welcome departure from Bay's previous works in what may well be his most fun movie to date. However the film loses it's satiric bite when it revels in its overload of violence.

Best Bay film since Bad Boys

This movie was ironic, funny and damn near depressing. Based on the true events of three body builders who try to extort a rich jewish client, end up kidnapping him and get caught up in some mayhem that ends with a double murder. Definitely not a family movie, but a good view either way.

Boys on roids

While amusing the premise is silly.

3 gym jocks guys steal their american dream as they believe they deserve it.

The guys go on a roid fuelled rampage of kidnapping, toucher and a double murder