Pain & Gain: Avarice at its best / worst

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Muscles, money, melanoma. What more could you want?

For some reason, Michael Bay decided to make a Fargo-esque movie about a real storyPain & Gain is the “true crime” tale of three mid-90s Miami weightlifters who are too set on absolute success to realize that they’ve fucked up beyond their worst nightmares.

Unlike his film’s narrators, Bay seems to have succeeded.

Maybe he succeeded because there aren’t any giant robots, or maybe it’s because truth is stranger than fiction and this story is already good enough.  Or maybe it was because he got Mark WahlbergDwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Anthony Mackie to play his barely clued-in protago-villains (“Don’t worry, I’ve watched a lot of movies,” says Walhberg’s character on the topic of kidnapping, “I know what I’m doing.”), and then convinced Ed Harris and Tony Shalhoub to round out his cast.

I’m not saying that this movie is exceptionally good or a critical success.  I’m saying that it wildly exceeded my (admittedly low) expectations.  The movie flunks the Bechdel test, sidelining the few female characters involved in favor of focusing on a plethora of detestable assholes who feel like they came straight out of a game of Fiasco.  Their fluctuating connection to reality coupled with the greedy entitlement of Wahlberg’s character pulls the movie along like a freight train, complete with ensuing train wreck.  Their musclebound, idiotically-genius antics exemplify the phrase “hot mess.”

More specifics after the break.

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2 Bad 2 Guns isn’t 2 Better

The short and sweet version is as follows: 2 Guns delivers everything that I’d expect from light and entertaining action-movie fare, and even does some of it decently well.  It does not, however, exceed expectations, and even dips below them at a point or two.  This comes despite the presence of fairly good actors and a potentially highly interesting premise, hence the title of my review.  Maybe seeing Denzel Washington across from Mark Wahlberg got me too excited?

I’m not saying that 2 Guns is bad.  It might even be above average for an action-movie (though where the mean lies is difficult for me to determine, given the prevalence of outliers and misleading clumps in the data).  But I don’t think that it will stick around in our collective memory for any considerable period of time, except perhaps as inspiration for something that could have been done a bit better.

Keep reading, I’m not done yet.

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