For once dealing with actual characters (based on a true story), instead of CGI creations, Bay weaves an amusing and at times highly entertaining tale. Unfortunately the great pacing of the first half slows into a crawl for the second, leaving me wondering when it would wrap up.
As someone who loves a bit of exercise and the odd protein drink, the gym related scenes and dialogue are the funniest, with Anthony Mackie’s Adrian in particular raising laughs with his constant questioning of Paul Doyle’s (Dwayne Johnson) training methods.
Speaking of Johnson, this is without doubt the best role he has appeared in, eschewing his usual tough guy persona to portray a guilt ridden former alcoholic who no longer wants to harm people. His natural charm is bolstered by his expressiveness and willingness to play against type.
Wahlberg is his usual self whilst the rest of the cast acquit themselves well. No fault can be laid at their feet. Instead I look to the editors and Bay, who could have easily excised 20 minutes and made the second half of the film as snappy as the first. This is Bay we’re taking about, so don’t expect anything too deep, but it’s far above his work on the Transformers films and shows us that there is a really good film in him somewhere, if only he could control his excesses.