PAIN & GAIN (M18)
SET in the vibrant 1990s, Pain & Gain, which is directed by Michael Bay, revolves around the real-life story of three steroid-crazed bodybuilders - Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg), Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) - who have an absurd goal: Kidnap shady businessman Victor Kernshaw (Tony Shalhoub) in an attempt to coerce him into giving them all his money.
Bay's worst tendencies are on full display in the film, as he employs one slow-motion shot too many and helms unnecessary action sequences that do not add value to the film.
Likewise, the acting does the film no favours, with the three leads portraying buffoonish caricatures that become increasingly dimmer as the film progresses. However, it must be said that Johnson is frequently hilarious in his role as Doyle, a religious former convict with a drug problem.
With gaping plot-holes, senseless action scenes, and pacing problems that make the film feel longer than its two-hour runtime, Pain & Gain is a nonsensical flick that does not capture the zeitgeist of the American Dream, as it clearly sets out to do.
PRABU KRISHNA MOORTHY
THE RELUCTANT FUNDAMENTALIST (NC16)
CHANGEZ Khan (Riz Ahmed) is part of the privileged class in his native Pakistan. He graduates from Princeton, takes up a job as a hotshot financial analyst in New York and falls in love with Erica, a photographer (Kate Hudson).
Then terrorists attack the World Trade Center twin towers in New York on Sept 11, 2001, and his world begins to crumble.
Based on Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid's 2007 bestseller of the same name, the film does not delve into the rights and wrongs of what a heightened security environment means for someone who fits a certain profile - regardless of whether he is a terrorist - but it shows the disillusionment and resentment it creates.
Ultimately, the film provides a resolution to the question it poses but, to its credit, it does not presume to give easy answers.