When I praise Michael Bay, I feel like I have to explain that I’m being ironic and I’m not doing it sarcastically. I’ve had plenty of problems with plenty of his films, but the things I like, I like quite a bit. “Bad Boys II,” for instance. That is a startling film, a studio movie that seems to have a completely and utterly broken moral compass. It is actively offensive, and I have to admire how completely committed to things it is. It feels like the perfect movie reaction to what was happening in gaming at the time, like the “Grand Theft Auto” series. It’s incredibly well-made, even if it feels like everyone involved had to be just a little bit crazy to think that it was okay.
This new red-band trailer for “Pain and Gain” looks like the movie that’s been backing up Bay’s system the entire time he’s been making the “Transformers” movies. He has been a good soldier for Paramount as he cranked those money-making behemoths out, and while I like a lot of the set piece work that he’s done in the series, I’ve never felt like his heart was fully in what he was doing. The most personal details in those films tend to be the things that people react negatively to, and it’s always seemed like a bit of an ill fit between franchise and filmmaker.
“Pain and Gain,” though, looks like it is 100% unfiltered from-the-tap Michael Bay, and as such, it looks bonkers. Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson all get plenty of moments in this trailer, and it’s obvious why they had to cut a red-band preview. If the film taps this same overheated brand of crazy for the entire running time, it’s going to be a crazy movie experience.
I know I just put up a Film Nerd 2.0 about Johnson, and that I’ve got a full “G.I. Joe” interview with him coming up later, but this is a good indication of what a strange year he’s having. So far, we’ve already seen “Snitch” and “G.I. Joe,” and we’ve still got “Pain and Gain” and “Fast Six” coming. He looks like he’s having more fun than anyone in movies at the moment, working with a variety of filmmakers, getting to play a pretty broad range of material, and no one works harder at it than he seems to. His particular form of sincerity alongside Wahlberg’s childlike “innocent dummy” character already has me laughing. No one plays good-hearted dopes as well as Walhberg, and I love watching him play a total dunce with a dream.
This is a very NSFW trailer, so be warned, and let me know if this attracts you to the movie or if it clearly warns you off. I would imagine we’ll see both reactions based on how strongly this trailer declares a tone.
“Pain and Gain” will be in theaters on April 26, 2013.