Dwayne Johnson True Story Crime Thriller Is His Best Performance, Stream Without Netflix

By Charlene Badasie | Updated

The 2013 action comedy Pain & Gain is available on various streaming platforms. Directed by Michael Bay from a script by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the movie is loosely inspired by the exploits of the Sun Gym gang, whose criminal activities were chronicled by Miami New Times journalist Pete Collins in 1999.

All-Star Cast Makes Light Of Horrific Events

The group of bodybuilding ex-convicts was embroiled in kidnapping, extortion, torture, and murder during the mid-1990s in Miami. Pain & Gain takes these horrific real-life events and turns them into comedic situations due to the stupidity of the characters played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, and Anthony Mackie. However, some viewers may find the film offensive for this reason.

Kidnapping Plot Gone Wrong

Pain & Gain revolves around Daniel Lugo (Wahlberg), a fitness trainer who dreams of living the American dream. He recruits his fellow bodybuilders, Paul Doyle (Johnson) and Adrian Doorbal (Mackie), to help him kidnap and extort a wealthy businessman named Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub). The Sun Gym gang kidnaps Kershaw and takes him to a warehouse.

Even though Kershaw recognizes Lugo, the trio continues with the plan. Feeling pressured, Kershaw makes calls explaining his disappearance and transfers items of value to Lugo. Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) is bribed to authenticate documents in Kershaw’s absence. After seizing Kershaw’s money and possessions in Pain & Gain, the gang tries to kill him.

Mistakes Are Made, Hilarity Ensues

They try to stage a drunken driving accident, torch his car, and then run him over. The gang celebrates by enjoying Kershaw’s wealth. Lugo takes ownership of his car and house, exerting influence over the local community. Doorbal marries a nurse named Robin (Rebel Wilson). Doyle squanders his money on drugs and strippers.

Pain & Gain takes an unexpected twist when Kershaw survives. While local police doubt his story due to his demeanor, blood alcohol level, and nationality, retired investigator Ed Du Bois III (Ed Harris) advises him to leave the hospital. Kershaw follows the advice and hides in a budget motel. Du Bois tails the gang, and the story devolves into comedic chaos.

Creative Liberties Rubbed Critics The Wrong Way

The movie received mixed reviews from critics. While some praised its writing and acting, Pain & Gain was slammed for its historical errors and heavy emphasis on violence. Despite these mixed reactions, it proved to be a hit with viewers, earning $86 million at the global box office. Various media outlets compared and contrasted details portrayed in the film with actual events.

As expected, Pain & Gain leaves out many details and characters while adding fictional elements. While the film depicts the Sun Gym gang as having three main members with two accomplices, the gang was larger in reality. In the film, Victor Kershaw is from Bogota, Colombia, but his real-life counterpart, Marc Schiller, was born in Argentina.

Artistic License Makes For Better Storytelling

Additionally, the film inaccurately portrays certain events, such as the car used in the attempted murder of Schiller (seen as Victor Kershaw in the movie), who filed a lawsuit against the production company regarding his depiction. These discrepancies highlight the artistic liberties taken by director Michael Bay and underscore the importance of fact-checking when interpreting actual events.

Pain & Gain is available to stream on Pluto TV, Amazon Prime Video, and Hulu.