The only thing that I knew about Pain & Gain before seeing going to see it in theaters is that it starred The Rock and that it was real excited about being based on a true story. I didn’t expect to dole out any of my leftover Oscars, but I thought it might be mildly entertaining False. Very, very false. If you go into this movie thinking that it will be a chance to turn your brain off for a few hours, you will be thinking wrong. My brain worked in overtime the entire time because I felt so uncomfortable with the choices that the people behind the film made.
First of all, you should know that it’s very closely based on the true story of a bunch of bodybuilders in the ’90s who murdered Frank Griga and Krisztina Furton in an attempt to steal their lifestyle. Their plans went so horribly wrong that it’s almost funny to read about their stupidity. The keyword is almost because it’s a true story. The people murdered were once real people who lived among us. So when you think about it for more than, oh I don’t know, .6 seconds, you remember that it’s not funny. It’s actually incredibly tragic that two innocent people got murdered, chopped into pieces by an axe and tossed into the Everglades.
Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo, the bodybuilder who concocted the entire plan and currently sits on death row. As in that row where people are put to death. You might forget about the seriousness of that row while watching the end of the movie though when you see a photo of the real life Daniel Lugo next to a photo Mark Wahlberg mugging for the camera and the line “Daniel Lugo was sentenced to death” show up on the screen.
Anthony Mackie plays Lugo’s sidekick Adrian Doorbal, the comic relief of the movie. You see he wants to be rich too and he’s totally down for murder, but he’s also really stupid. It’s funny because in real life he’s described as a sociopath.
“Doorbal just loved violence,” Schiller says today. “He enjoyed what he was doing to me. He is the kind of guy you’d imagine had fun killing cats and dogs as a kid.” His brutality only got worse with Griga and Furton. Doorbal crushed Griga’s skull with a blunt object, strangled him, and finished him off with a horse tranquilizer. He also injected Furton with lethal doses of the trank. Then Doorbal used a chainsaw and a hatchet to dismember their bodies.
Finally The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) plays Paul Doyle who seems to be based on the real life Jorge Delgado — since they both ended up snitched on Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal during the trial. While it’s hard to pick the most offensive scene in this movie (because there are a lot if you’re anti-misogyny and anti-homophobia), the one where Paul Doyle grills human hands barbecue-style in an attempt to remove their finger prints might be a frontrunner. Not only is the thought of that action in general absolutely nauseating, but the fact that “this is still based on a true story” flashed across the screen in a winky sorta way during this scene made me want to actually just vomit.
And I’m not the only one who had a few issues with the way that the producers, directors and actors chose to approach this particular story. Turns out that the family of the victims isn’t too pleased either. Huffington Post reports that Gringa’s sister doesn’t really find it to be a laughing matter.
Zsuzsanna Griga told The Miami Herald that the movie’s depiction of the gang as sympathetic bumblers just trying to get ahead is “ridiculous.” Gang members murdered and dismembered her brother and his girlfriend. ”It’s horrible what happened to them,” said Griga, who lives in Hungary. She could not be reached by The Associated Press. “I don’t want the American public to be sympathetic to the killers,” she said.
You know who else also doesn’t see the humor in the situation? Mark Schiller. The man who survived a month of torture and a gruesome murder attempt on his life by the bodybuilding gang. He tells Huffington Post that he’s struggling to laugh at the way they portrayed his attempted murder.
“Obviously at the end they tried to kill me — and it wasn’t that funny when they tried to kill me,” Schiller said on HuffPost Live, referring to the comedic tone with which the film is being billed. “They did run me over with a car twice after trying to blow me up in the car. I was in a coma and somehow I got out. … It wasn’t that funny because I had substantial injuries. … The way they tell it made it look like a comedy. You also gotta remember that not only I went through this, but certain people were killed, so making these guys look like nice guys is atrocious.”
So yeah, as you’ve probably surmised by now this dark comedy isn’t actually as dark as it offensive toward anyone who doesn’t find murder and torture to be funny. I’m not sure what they were thinking when they decided to make this into a lighthearted romp, but I do know that it’s incredibly disrespectful toward the actual victims who got murdered by these men.