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'Pain & Gain' never comes to life

Director Michael Bay seems to have forgotten he's directing humans rather than robots in his new film.

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'Pain & Gain' stars Mark Wahlberg (l.) and Rebel Wilson (r.).

Fred Prouser/Reuters

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It’s official. Michael Bay, director of the “Transformers” clobberfests, knows how to make movies about humans, too. The problem is, he thinks humans are robots.

“Pain & Gain” is about a trio of knuckleheaded Miami bodybuilders who kidnap a loudmouthed millionaire and take him for everything he’s got, but its resemblance to the “Transformers” movies is patently obvious. Nobody in it seems to possess a nervous system.

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The three beefcakes are played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson (he doesn’t go by The Rock anymore – pity) and Anthony Mackie. Tony Shalhoub is the nattery Colombian-Jewish kidnapee who, Rasputin-like, refuses to die despite the knuckleheads’ every effort to put him asunder.

All this is apparently based on a true story. Just in case we thought things were getting too outlandish, Bay at one point helpfully flashes on the screen, “This is still a true story.”

Maybe so, but nothing in this movie seems remotely real. Given how much ultra-gory Tarantino-esque mayhem is on view, maybe that’s a good thing. Whereas Tarantino mucks about in real-world stuff, like slavery and the Holocaust, Bay at least keeps his gruesomeness firmly planted in never-never land.That’s not a recommendation, just an observation.

Next up for Bay: “Transformers 4.” But didn’t he just make it? Grade: C (Rated R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use.)