Michael Bay's Pain & Gain is a dizzying, lunatic dissent into one of the most surreal and gleefully disturbing blue collar crimes to have ever been committed in the already morally desolate dystopia of 1990s-era Miami. The case involves a group of charismatic bodybuilders willing to break all taboos of American society to achieve their MTV warped perception of the American dream; aggressively abusing their pectoral wattage to torture an intensely unlikable Columbian entrepreneur into surrendering all assets and traces of former existence. It's depraved, violent, and relentlessly hyperactive popcorn entertainment drenched in sarcastic dark humor and lit by the inherently warm glow of the Florida sun. Bay has concocted a Molotov cocktail of dizzying sadism, and against all moral judgement, it's difficult not to get swept up in what is sincerely an absolute blast.
While performances by the central trio of Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie are rarely anything short of superb, what is most notable about the film is Michael Bay's defibrillator shock to the gullet direction. Rarely focusing on the moral consequences of the characters' depraved actions, Bay uses and abuses every tool in the director's arsenal. An eclectic variety of different ratio videocameras, allowing every character an opportunity for narration (a style which helps cement each individual's belief in the true American dream), and occasionally breaking the third wall to remind viewers we are watching a true story: It's ADHD filmmaking at its absolute finest. Although some might find the unique technique grating or possibly unbearable, it's certainly unlike anything committed to screen in recent memory. After a series of mostly mediocre Transformers blockbusters, it's a relief to find that Michael Bay has the potential to tweak his traditional bombastic style to fit a story which absolutely needs it. An undeniably unforgettable depraved, ADHD odyssey.