In his review of Michael Bay‘s Pain & Gain, N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott describes the Paramount release as “two hours of sweat, blood and cheerful, nasty vulgarity, punctuated by voice-over ruminations about Jesus, physical fitness and the American dream, along with a few tactical visits to a strip club. 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. Why choose?”

(l. to r.) Dwayne Johnson, Mark Wahlberg and Anthomy Mackie in Michael Bay’s Pain & Gain

Good closing graph: “While not exactly glorifying the crimes of the Sun Gym gang, Mr. Bay does not entirely condemn them either. A different kind of director might have made Pain & Gain into a gamy, gritty sunshine noir, or else a knowing satire of idiot America. The easy move would be to invite the audience to look down on Daniel, Paul and Adrian, but Mr. Bay’s brand of populism holds them rigorously and maddeningly at eye level. The movie and, by implication, those of us watching it are no better than these guys. I found that unspeakably insulting and also impressive.”