The news that Michael Bay, the grinning schlockmeister behind the “Transformers” franchise, “Armageddon,” and “Pearl Harbor,” was directing a special-effects-free comedy actually piqued some people’s interest, this critic’s included. Who knows, we thought: Maybe the guy would turn out to be good at something besides making ridiculous amounts of money.
No such luck. “Pain & Gain,” a jokey but fatally tone-deaf true-crime caper, plays like “Fargo” for idiots. It’s final proof, if you need it, that Bay is a director of great mechanical skill and no discernible talent, which means that he can pull off a camera shot or an action sequence to make you gasp but is hapless at making a movie that holds together for more than five minutes at a time, let alone from one end to the other.