Michael Bay meets Guy Ritchie and Oliver Stone. That is the only way I can sum up this movie. Over the years, we have expected a certain type of movie from Michael Bay. This involves a lot of pyrotechnics, stylized action, superficial characters and wafer-thin plot line. This is where Michael Bay surprises us. Instead of going the usual route, Michael Bay decides to tell us a story of greed involving a group of bodybuilders with characters more developed that in his previous movies and plot twisting and turning every 5 minutes. In the process, he has a movie which has excellent performances, a screenplay quirky enough to be written by Oliver Stone and imagery worthy of Guy Richie.
Daniel Lugo(Mark Wahlberg), Adrian Doorbal(Anthony Mackie) and Paul Doyle(Dwayne Johnson) works at the Sun Gym in Miami which is owned by John Mese(Rob Corddry). Misguided by self help programs and also the concept of the American dream, Lugo cooks up a plan to kidnap one of the wealthy patrons Victor Kershaw(Tony Shalhoub) for extorting money. Possessing a lot of determination but not having intelligence levels matching with the determination levels, the trio finds it very difficult to get money out of Kershaw. When they finally succeed, it become even more difficult to dispose of Kershaw. Very soon, a private detective Ed Du Bois(Ed Harris) gets interested in the trio and start tracking them.
The movie is violent. Some of the scenes are very graphic. At other times, it is very repulsive to the point of being comical. Throughout the movie, Michael Bay and his team pushes our imagination to make us hate the lead characters. They want to earn money the easy way. The easy way means crime. One crime leads to another. Similarly, hunger for money is satisfied only by having more money which in turn means the lead characters are ready to commit another crime. Since they are bodybuilders, they go by the adage "No Pain, No Gain" which also explains the title. Ironically, there is no gain while there is a lot of pain.
It is interesting to watch the disintegration of the lead characters into senseless criminals despite the mayhem on the screen. This is made possible by the performances of Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson stands out as the determined yet silly ring leader and the cokehead who is walking the thin line respectively. Tony Shalhoub reminds us of Joe Pesci.
If you can stomach violence, then this is worth watching for the performances and a story of greed which goes awry.