Michael Bay hasn’t directed a non-Transformers movie since 2005’s The Island, so the mere news that the commercially-inclined filmmaker was considering time off from the robot circuit to helm a heist story with a strictly human cast of characters — well, it’s the kind of thing I reacted to with a sigh of relief. Throw in the fact that the based-on-real-events screenplay was put together by Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus — the scribes behind Captain America: The First Avenger — and things were really starting to look up.

Soon after that initial news, however, a new obstacle was placed in Bay‘s path — Paramount would only agree to finance Pain and Gain, the title of the aforementioned heist project, if Bay agreed to sign on for a fourth Transformers installment. That’s a lot of time and commitment to ensure the backing for another project, so my gut instinct — well, perhaps the less-wise half of my gut — tells me that Bay must really be sold on the Pain and Gain material. After all, multiple sources (including the scribes) have leaped at the opportunity to compare the story to the seminal Fargo.

Dwayne Johnson, who’s got a pair of upcoming blockbusters in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and G.I. Joe: Retaliation, was the first to commit to Bay‘s Miami-based crime film, and it looks like Ed Harris is in the process of becoming the second actor to get reeled in, while also reuniting with his Rock director. Coming off Man on a Ledge (read our review here), Harris hasn’t officially boarded the project, but there would probably be a nice paycheck in it for him. And it just might be a less painful one than his most recent outing. (I didn’t see Ledge — but, man, did it look dreadful.) [Vulture]

That’s all the Pain and Gain news for now. Original reports speculated a potential starting date sometime this spring, but that hasn’t been solidified either. Let’s get the ball rolling, Paramount.

Do you think this could be a successful semi-departure for Bay?

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