The first hour may be Bay's career high point: it's fast, freaky, gloriously tasteless and startlingly pointed in its attacks on western insecurity, shallowness and greed.
| Original Score: 3/5
In between scenes of the muscleheads torturing their victim, Bay indulges his taste for treating women as sluts and grisly brutality as a nifty excuse for a cheap laugh.
| Original Score: 0.5/4
Now [Bay] hits new levels of both artistry and sleaziness in the black comedy Pain & Gain, which I strongly recommend if you don't overvalue taste, subtlety, and moral decency. I liked it.
This crude and ugly entertainment is as crass as everything this depressingly successful filmmaker has done.
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.
| Original Score: C
It may be the best movie Michael Bay's ever made. And suggests that, if you just kept his toys put away a little longer, someday he might even make a better one.
| Original Score: 3/4
It's like a giant sculpture that is so strange and off-putting, it's instantly, intriguingly post-modern. Swept up in the film's pile-driving self-assurance, even Bay-haters may absorb the pain to enjoy the gain.
Skillfully made, genuinely funny and appalling for making light of true horror.
| Original Score: 2.5/4
The combination of the words "Michael Bay" and "steroids" should be enough to give any moviegoer pause ...
| Original Score: 2/4
"Pain & Gain" brings the pain, but it's difficult to see the gain.
The whole thing is played for laughs that almost never come.
| Original Score: 1/4
Kudos to Bay and his screenwriters for making sure we're laughing at them, not with them.
Michael Bay sends a clear message to those of us who've been making fun of him: He's been in on the joke the whole time.
It makes for some stupid/slap-shtick fun of the Stooges variety -- that is, if Larry, Curly and Moe had been hunky gym rats engaged in illegal activity.
This isn't great cinema, but it's vastly entertaining in an overblown, in-your-face sort of way.
I left Pain & Gain wondering how it managed to be both Bay's most off-putting movie and his most artistically successful.
Not only hollow and assaultive, but frenzied, madly violent and skullnumbingly loud.
Pain & Gain brings fun to the multiplex with its story of knucklehead bodybuilders with pumped-up dreams and 98-pound weakling brains.
I'm still not sure whether to mildly like or mildly hate this movie.
[Bay] blankets the film in a tone of smug self-awareness that obscures everything but its bald hypocrisy.
Wahlberg and Johnson are the saving graces of an in-your-face movie about weightlifters who kidnap, extort and dismember their victims.
"Pain & Gain" could have been a dark comedy about lowlifes chasing the high life, but lacks the guiding vision to hold its clashing elements in balance.
Plays like "Fargo" for idiots.
A brash, vulgar, exhilaratingly vigorous, spontaneously complex hoot of a true-crime movie.
A dizzying lowlife saga that's fast, smart, wicked, sort of ambitious and blazingly ironic.
| Original Score: 3.5/4
Behind the lunatic corruption of Pain And Gain there's a kind of monstrous clarity. Do with it what you will.
| Original Score: 4/5
Bay ... doesn't seem to realize the film has gotten away from him. He's still trying to maintain the same jaunty tone even after the content's gone gruesome.
You may feel the grisly laughs sticking in your throat.
In telling a true story about hapless thugs who are the embodiment of Michael Bay fans, the director has made the most fiendishly enjoyable movie of his career.
You can't thread a needle this fine with a script filtered through Bay's puerile id.
| Original Score: 2.5/5
As ambitious and vibrant as it is ugly and scattershot, "Pain & Gain" is the most charming Michael Bay movie in a long while.
Bay is no Paul Verhoeven, but he's coming from a similar place here, purposely amplifying the ugliest qualities of American culture.
It all leaves you pondering whether you have just seen a monumentally stupid movie or a brilliant movie about the nature and consequences of stupidity.
A badly constructed, blood-spattered caper that comes unglued early on.
After an hour of "Pain & Gain," it felt more like "Pain & Pain."
| Original Score: 1.5/4
This is easily Bay's best movie, the work of a filmmaker with a cracked sense of humor that he is able to share with the audience.
All but the faintest flashes of humanity and pathos are flattened by the cinematic cyclone that is Michael Bay.
With Pain & Gain, his surprising true-crime comedy, Bay has finally decided to lighten up a bit.
| Original Score: B
Though this story needs no embellishment, Bay can't help himself.
A ham-fisted, thick-skulled comic caper about bodybuilders-turned-criminals which, like its three protagonists, fully lives down to its own potential.
Bay can be a master of exuberant chaos, but here the violence mostly lands with a sickening thud, which is fitting, one supposes, but also ultimately numbing.