Equipped with a $25-million budget that likely would have only covered the catering costs on 2011's "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," Michael Bay has helmed his most confident, grown-up feature, to date, with grisly true-life crime satire "Pain & Gain." Maybe the lower budget helped to spark the typically bombastic, technically haywire director's spirit and ambition. Maybe screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (2011's "Captain America: The First Avenger") wrote such a flashy-good script that no one could really screw it up. Or maybe, just maybe, Bay's underlying talents have nothing to do with CGI effects, after all. Whatever the case, the director's sizable departure from what is usually expected of him is the wisest creative decision of his career, proof that when he puts his mind to it and chooses quality over a massive paycheck, it just might pay off in an altogether more gratifying way.
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