This series focuses on the one and only Michael Bay. Attempting to deconstruct his filmography, one film at a time. The ideas explored here may or may not end up in my Dissertation about Michael Bay and Post-Cinema.
And to answer the question: Does it ever rain in a Michael Bay movie?
After blowing up Chicago, and saying he was done with the TRANSFORMERS movies (for about 10 minutes and then signed on for a fourth one), he made a smaller film, PAIN & GAIN.
Starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie. “Unfortunately…”, the opening narration declares, “Unfortunately this is a true story.”
You can find the actual true story here, and it is as insane as the actual events in the film. The thing about Michael Bay tackling a true story, hell, a true story this horrible, is that the style of Bay creates a sickly visual companion to the events. What is astounding is that the budget for the film was reportedly $22 million, which is the same as SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, but Bay makes the film look three times that.
Danny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) looks up to Michael Corleone and Scarface, men who have worked thier way up to the top, and he thinks deservedly so. He misses the fall that comes after the rise. It never dawns on Danny that when he is falling, it is happening. Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) is the sheep, blindly following Danny to the end. He is committed to being the best, but doesn’t realise the impact of his actions.
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is in SOUTHLAND TALES mode, testing his acting muscles rather than showing off his actual muscles. His Paul Doyle dumb, violent and bipolar. He is also the only one of the group that seems to suffer from his actions on a mental level, turning to drugs to keep him level. But his level is way off.
Michael Bay hates everyone. This isn’t some righteous story about the bad guys being misunderstood, or a tragic one about a victim wrongly hurt. He despises everyone on screen.
This film is basely funny, overly juvenile, forwardly upsetting, farcically grotesque, and down right appaling. When The Rock starts barbequeing human flesh, a notice comes up signalling that ‘This Is Still A True Story’, as though the audience needs reminding. The garish oversaturated colour palette is sickly, as though the America on screen is infected.
The film is set in 1995, released in 2013. This is some wierd distorted American dream, neon green, neon blue and neon pink bleedind and infecting the perfect red, white and blue of the American flag. In 2013, Martin Scorsese released THE WOLF OF WALL STREET, a film about the excess of America. PAIN & GAIN is the sibling film, showing the drugs, murder, kidnapping, robbery, hookers side of America.
David Chen at SlashFilm put together an article that compared the truth to the film, and there is a fascinating coda about the real-life victim. Why wasn’t this included in the film? Because as David Chen puts it, “we all know how Bay feels about moral ambiguity. Wait. No, we don’t.”
No, we don’t.
Does it rain? No.
Next up: A return to TRANSFORMERS