Transformers director Michael Bay tries to show he can do more reasonably budgeted films as well as blockbusters – but sadly fails.
Even with the solid acting duo of Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson on board, Bay’s long-term based-on-a-true story ‘pet project’ about a botched kidnapping by a trio of hardcore gym enthusiasts turns into a bit of a mess.
The premise is pretty decent as Wahlberg stars as pumped-up instructor Danny Lugo in early nineties Miami, who – in pursuit of the ‘American dream’ – enlists the help of fellow gym junkies Paul Doyle (Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (The Hurt Locker’s Anthony Mackie) to kidnap one of his millionaire clients, Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub).
But with private investigator Ed Dubois (Ed Harris) on their tails, things don’t quite go to plan and several innocent people get caught in the crossfire as the story unfolds – forsaking a possibly intelligent script and potential satire for an over-stylised plot and sometimes gratuitous violence.
This leaves the movie painfully close to the thin line of decency, when Bay’s attempts at over-the-top humour borders into unnecessary own goals for a movie trying far too hard to be clever.
But it’s not completely without merit, with a few decent set-pieces and one great comedy scene with ‘get rich quick’ guru Jonny Wu (The Hangover’s Ken Jeong) – but sadly the talents of Wahlberg and Johnson are hampered by a disjointed screenplay.
He’s done some good stuff – Bad Boys, The Rock and Armageddon – and some pretty awful stuff – Transformers 2 & 3 and The Island – but sadly this docks at the latter end of Bay’s CV with plenty of pain, and not much gain.
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie, Ed Harris, Tony Shalhoub, Rob Corddry, Ken Jeong, Bar Paly, Rebel Wilson, Michael Rispoli, Peter Stormare
Running Time: 2hrs 5mins
Director: Michael Bay [youtube id=”SEQ8jyvmYtw” width=”600″ height=”350″]