“My name is Daniel Lugo, and I believe in fitness,” are the first and last words of Pain & Gain, a refreshing film about bungling bodybuilding criminals from Michael Bay, a director who has the status of a bungling bodybuilder in the movie world. Big and strong with little intelligence are words that equally apply to his characters here and to his films in general, from Armageddon to the three Transformers installments.
Daniel, played by Mark Wahlberg, runs a gym in Miami where the focus on physical improvement is so big we see the members at this muscle mecca shooting up steroids in plain view of each other. He is the kind of guy for whom working out while eating breakfast in the morning comes as naturally as watching television from the kitchen table.
He is passionate about fitness and muscular development, but even more than that, he sees it as his duty to make himself look the best he possibly can. When we hear fitness equated with patriotism in his voice-over, however, we realize his brain is not as well developed as his body.
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(Still of Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie in Pain & Gain. Photo by Photo credit: Jaimie Trueblood – © 2013 Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.)