Film Review: Pain and Gain

Pain and Gain
Pain and Gain stars Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. This was an entertaining film in some parts! An interesting plot. A lot of action and twists and turns keep things moving.

Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg) is not long out of jail when he begins hatching plans to enjoy the rich life. He works at a gym and one client draws his attention – Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub).

There’s a bungled attempt to kidnap him along with two ‘pals’. Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle (Johnson). Adrian’s a body builder who needs money and Doyle is a drug addict, trying – and failing – to kick his habit.

The chemistry between the three (Wahlberg, Johnson and Mackie) is one of the strong points of this film. The inept way they have of messing up their plans, forcing them to take more extreme action to fix things, keeps the pace fast.

I wouldn’t want to work with them that’s for sure. It’s a pity there wasn’t more comic moments, a bit like a Carry On film, as this would have been fantastic. It would’ve made movie gold. It’s just such a shame that things became so graphic and complex.

The drug story brought it down and Lugo’s schemes were getting grander and grander. Kershaw survives being kidnapped and a car crash and has to go into hiding as the police refuse to believe his kidnappers could be so incompetent. So he’s forced to hire a private eye. His fortune is gone with the trio spending his money on various treats.

Ed Du Bois (Ed Harris) is the private eye tracking the gang and when their money runs out, they decide on another kidnapping (Uh-oh!). Cue more mayhem and action, along with police chases galore!

The main problem with this film is the style, it didn’t work as a gangster film. The main trio had such brilliant chemistry, this should have been a gentler comedy as I‘ve said above. Leaving someone to burn to death in a car was unnecessary and some of the violence was likewise not needed. Burning hands on a BBQ was awful and weird!

Also why wouldn’t Lugo raid Kershaw’s offshore accounts before? Why leave them until later? Also convincing Kershaw’s family to leave town so he could have the house was unbelievable.

Due to the darker tones and some choice of storylines I’m marking this 6/10. I was really hoping to give Mark Wahlberg higher, you can’t deny he’s a versatile actor but some his choices are certainly questionable.

Dwayne Johnson seems to be taking anything that comes along but he’s always amiable on screen.

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Film Review: Contraband

You’ve all seen Contraband before. Granted, it probably wasn’t called Contraband, but you’ve seen it just the same. In fact you’ve probably seen it several times over your movie-going years, so much so that you’re probably getting a little tired of it.

Contraband tells the story of Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg), a former smuggler who decides to come out of retirement for one last job when his brother-in-law gets into trouble with a dangerous drug dealer (Giovanni Ribisi). Sound familiar? It should do. The criminal coming out of retirement for one final job storyline has been around for a very long time, and has probably been used so many times it must be out of copyright like an incredibly old song.

The predictable and overly used plot still isn’t this film’s biggest failing. Giovanni Ribisi, an actor we know is capable of great things, is boxed into the homicidal drug dealer category, something we’ve seen him do before and doesn’t do him any justice. Spare a thought for poor old Kate Beckinsale too. Here we have an actress who is capable of carrying an entire movie franchise on her shoulders, no matter how bad it may be, reduced to playing the perfect wife in danger role. Her character is so underwritten it is borderline lazy.

Let’s not overlook what this film gets right though. The action sequences are top notch and riveting, and let’s face, the action scenes are the reason this film exists. The heist at the centre of the story is incredibly planned out, right down to every little detail. It’s all rather ingenious, to the extent that it would make Danny Ocean scratch his head. It is hard to believe that these nitty gritty street-wise thieves are intelligent enough to plan something like this.

Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur does a good job considering this is his first Hollywood movie, and if this project is a test to see if he’s ready then he almost certainly is. Mark Wahlberg does a good job in the lead role, now being more selective about the film roles he takes on. After starring in absolute howlers such as The Happening, it would be understandable if he is slightly weary. It is thanks to Kormákur and Wahlberg that this film is able to lift itself out of the doldrums and make it credible, but when there is so much potential and very little delivered, other people may not be so forgiving.

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