The pairing of the words pain and gain is something I associate with working out. I have heard gym teachers tell their students, “work through the pain” or “you won’t get stronger if you don’t feel the pain.” To me these are not words of encouragement. The closest I come to saying something like that in my classes is to say, “it is ok to feel a muscle working.” I am afraid members could injure themselves if they think that feeling pain is the only way to know they are doing the exercises correctly. Thanks to this action film I now have a different association for the words pain and gain. I will always remember how painful it was for me to watch this film and how I wanted to gain back the time I lost. Based on a true story, director Michael Bay (Transformers franchise, Armageddon) filled this movie with an abundance of blood and violence. The actual story was so outrageous that I kept thinking that what I was seeing on the screen could not have really happened. And herein was one of the issues I had with Michael’s directing; there was so much time devoted to showing the violence I never got a real sense of the three main characters. Mark Wahlberg (The Fighter, Ted), Dwayne Johnson (Snitch, Get Smart) and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker, Real Steel) played bodybuilders Daniel Lugo, Paul Doyle and Adrian Doorbal. Not wanting to spend the rest of his life as a personal trainer; Daniel Lugo hatched a plan to kidnap his wealthy client Victor Kershaw, played by Tony Shalhoub (Hemmingway & Gellhorn, Monk-TV), for his money. With Paul and Adrian on board; what was to have been a fast, easy job turned into a cluster blunder. The only good acting came from Tony Shalhoub and Ed Harris (The Rock, A History of Violence) as Ed DuBois. If Dwayne Johnson’s goal was to look like a moving mountain, he succeeded. Maybe with the story being so unbelievable, Dwayne wanted to look as non-human as possible. After some time I was bored with this film. Though I did not get pumped up by the story, I did get a sudden urge to go to the health club and work out.
1 3/4 stars
From two places one could easily find themselves in the middle of a raging battle in a foreign land, to relaxing at a beach resort on a faraway island. All it takes is either reading a book or watching a movie. Sitting in a comfortable spot, a book will take me out of my home and let my imagination conjure up the places I am reading about. In my mind I can add the sounds, the colors and the inflection of people’s voices; there are no limits on what I can create. When I watch a film my eyes are the first to be stimulated. There is nothing I have to add; when a movie is good it will go beyond the limits of the screen it is projected on and engulf me into its story. I love both experiences. The visual stimulation in this dramatized biography was awesome. From the comfort of my sofa, I was transported back to the Spanish Civil War. From there I wound up in Cuba, the United States and on a fishing boat. It was the incredible filming of this story that immersed me in the tumultuous relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn. Nicole Kidman (Stoker, The Paperboy) as Martha was wonderful. I want to know how her eyes always had my attention in every one of her scenes. Clive Owen (Children of Men, The Boys are Back) was over the top as Ernest, to the point it was buffoonish for me. However, I cut him some slack since Hemingway was a larger than life character. Adding to the capable cast was David Strathairn (Lincoln, The Whistleblower) as John Dos Passos and Tony Shalhoub (Feed the Fish, Monk-TV) as Mikhail Koltsov. Similar to the filming style of Forrest Gump, I thoroughly enjoyed the intermingling of historic footage with current characters. The gentle shifting from black and white to sepia to color in the film was beautifully done. I am sure this movie took major liberties in regards to historical accuracy, facts about Martha and Ernest, along with the other characters in general; but I did not care. This Emmy award winning film was great to watch and I was able to visit different places around the world from my cozy couch. A few scenes with violence, blood and war casualties.
3 stars — DVD