This is not for the fainthearted nor is it for the moralistic folks. This one is simply for those who can separate cinema from all things decent and view a movie in the light of art that may not always be in good taste or decent. I don’t mean to imply that it’s a bad movie. Not, by a long shot. It’s a good movie…if you like the flavor of black comedy and don’t mind Michael Bay’s treatment of all things dark or action. To make matters a little darker we are told that this is based on a true story, and that adds just enough poignancy to the whole theme to make it all the more unsettling.
We see stellar performers like Mark Wahlberg in the role of a personal trainer Daniel Lugo who hatches up a get rich quick scheme by kidnapping a gym client Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) whose highly dislikable personality and almost has you licking your lips with satisfaction at getting what he deserves until the kidnappers manage to overdo the gore. Lugo is shown to be a big believer in the American Dream of making it big. Lugo’s philosophy is based on the simple premise that all men are born equal and with a little bit of ingenuity can achieve greatness. That ingenuity translates into pain…felt by others…to achieve gain…attained for him.
As his partner in crime Lugo has Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), an ex-con, ex-addict who has found his way back to religion but has also been disillusioned by the lusty priest who was supposed to be his savior: a rather disturbing and distasteful detail which I’d rather not have been introduced to, but then that’s the beauty and raw appeal of the movie. There is a third wheel in the gang and that’s Anthony Mackie whose a rather dim bulb in the arrangement. His problem is a perpetual overdose on steroids which has gone straight to his penis causing it to be stuck in suspended animation (impotence).
This side of Bay is both unsettling as well as intriguing as to what he will do next. The way he exploits the sexy female angle is a bit offensive but then what are you going to do, eh? Just sit back and enjoy the different angles shot of the long legged, shapely backsides of the eye candy in the gym. Kan Jeong plays an evangelist whose philosophy acts as the guiding beacon for all those like Lugo who believe that the American Dream knows no rules or morals.
While watching this movie you’ll be surprised at how much you will actually have enjoyed the whole macabre, distasteful experience. You might not want to tell your mum you liked the movie but secretly, you will be smiling. It will seem wrong to be smiling at the slapstick comedy that’s going down in the midst of all the gore but like I said, you will be smiling.
The goons go ahead to rob Kershaw of all his riches and live it up for a while. Later, when they’ve run it all into the ground they decide to repeat the operation again with a different victim but it goes horribly wrong and they end up with two cold meat suits which they chop up into tiny bits and try to dispose of. However, the horror of their actions finally gets to Dwayne who returns to the Church and things after that go south for the whole gang. They end up getting caught and even squealing on each other. In the end they all get their just desserts and the American Dream is laid to an uneasy rest.. for now, till someone else decides to dig up some other storyline to attach to the old adage.