No, Michael Bay did not apologize for ARMAGEDDON. Nor should he have had to. Thanks to BAYMAGEDDON, an intense ten-hour Michael Bay-themed marathon programmed by Greg MacLennan, I had the opportunity to revisit Bay’s 1998 apocalyptic slice of Americana for the first time in probably fifteen years and I am not afraid to admit that I wiped away more than a few tears while munching on my animal crackers. ARMAGEDDON is an emotionally powerful film – combining the best of apocalyptic, world shattering danger (!!) with the folksy, misty-eyed sentimentality of a coffee commercial. ARMAGEDDON is popcorn entertainment at its best – so what if the movie is not 100 percent scientific accurate. The unrestrained emotional showdown between a sobbing Ben Affleck and a steely-eyed Bruce Willis more than makes up for any scientific liberties Michael Bay took with his storytelling. Michael Bay is a man who was actually able to give a personality to a giant chunk of space rock. Lesser directors have difficulty giving personality to January Jones.
Michael Bay is a man who knows what he wants when it comes to his films and he wastes no time putting his particular film fetishes on full display once the cameras begin rolling. Fast cars, beautiful women, explosions with tiny, smaller explosions at their center – these are the hallmarks of a Michael Bay joint. Also: The magical ability to make audiences wish they were in life-threatening situations. Michael Bay's films are so excessive and frightening in their carnage that a line is crossed and - through a Pied Piper-like display of cunning - Bay manages to actually trick audiences into thinking it would be fun to face such dearth-courting danger.
It takes a very talented director to make audiences think it would be awesome to be shot at or have a car thrown at you or spend an extended period of time hanging out with Martin Lawrence. Michael Bay is one such talented director – proof positive being his latest film, PAIN & GAIN.
PAIN & GAIN is based on the unbelievable true story of a group of Miami bodybuilders who get it into their heads to turn to crime in order to achieve their dreams of financial and social success. Not the brightest kids on the block, the would-be-criminals (played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Anthony Mackie) quickly are over their heads thanks to stupid mistakes, unlucky flukes and one very resilient hostage played by Tony Shalhoub. PAIN & GAIN actually bridges the gap between action film director Michael Bay and auteur Michael Bay - evoking, believe it or not, early Paul Thomas Anderson thoughout much of the movie. Seriously. I wouldn't lie to you.
Despite having ample over-the-top action scenes and the film retaining the director’s signature kinetic approach to filming and editing, PAIN & GAIN is a small movie by Michael Bay standards. There are only a handful of explosions and they are actually plot-driven for the most part. What PAIN & GAIN lacks in giant robots or flame-engulfed helicopters, though, the film makes up for in a pitch black approach to comedy and great performances from a very talented ensemble cast. It's in combining the small, character-supported framework of the story with Michael Bay's in-your-face approach to filmmaking that the magic happens for PAIN & GAIN. The alchemy unleashes a fun display of testosterone, danger and smart performances.This movie is the real deal, folks.
If you’re one of those people who feel Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMER films personally violated your childhood, I’m not going to convince here and today that Bay’s filmography deserves another look. I think PAIN & GAIN might, though. The film is the product of a self-aware Michael Bay using his gift for the extravagant and over-the-top to tell a really great yarn. If you are a fan of dark, entertaining comedy and aren’t afraid of seeing a parade of tightly-toned and well-oiled flesh, I have a feeling PAIN & GAIN is a movie that is spilling out of its banana hammock with entertainment.
See for yourself. Tickets are now on sale for early $5 screenings on Thursday, April 25. The movie opens at both theaters this Friday.