'Pain & Gain' never comes to life

Director Michael Bay seems to have forgotten he's directing humans rather than robots in his new film.

Fred Prouser/Reuters
'Pain & Gain' stars Mark Wahlberg (l.) and Rebel Wilson (r.).

It’s official. Michael Bay, director of the “Transformers” clobberfests, knows how to make movies about humans, too. The problem is, he thinks humans are robots.

“Pain & Gain” is about a trio of knuckleheaded Miami bodybuilders who kidnap a loudmouthed millionaire and take him for everything he’s got, but its resemblance to the “Transformers” movies is patently obvious. Nobody in it seems to possess a nervous system.

The three beefcakes are played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson (he doesn’t go by The Rock anymore – pity) and Anthony Mackie. Tony Shalhoub is the nattery Colombian-Jewish kidnapee who, Rasputin-like, refuses to die despite the knuckleheads’ every effort to put him asunder.

All this is apparently based on a true story. Just in case we thought things were getting too outlandish, Bay at one point helpfully flashes on the screen, “This is still a true story.”

Maybe so, but nothing in this movie seems remotely real. Given how much ultra-gory Tarantino-esque mayhem is on view, maybe that’s a good thing. Whereas Tarantino mucks about in real-world stuff, like slavery and the Holocaust, Bay at least keeps his gruesomeness firmly planted in never-never land.That’s not a recommendation, just an observation.

Next up for Bay: “Transformers 4.” But didn’t he just make it? Grade: C (Rated R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use.)

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