Pain & Gain: Six Things Michael Bay Got Wrong
If you see Pain & Gain, Michael Bay's made-in-Miami dark comedy about a bodybuilder extortion scheme gone awry, before you read the original New Times story on which it was based, there's a good chance you'll like it. It's colorful and exciting and genuinely funny at times; its cast does an admirable job; and relative to other Bay films, this one is less, well, Bay-ish. As summertime action blockbusters go, you can do worse.
Photos courtesy Paramount Pictures
If, on the other hand, you're familiar with the details of the original story, Pain & Gain's gonna piss you right off.
The film is mostly true to real life, at least by Hollywood "based on true events" standards. But the characters, events, and other aspects of Pete Collins' story that Bay changes have far-reaching repercussions, creating an alternate reality in which the bad guys aren't so bad, the good guys aren't so good, and Miami somehow looks even more disastrously insane than it is in real life. Here are six of the most blatant examples.
- Pain & Gain: Mark Wahlberg and The Rock Are American Idiots Gone Bad
- Mark Wahlberg on Leading the Sun Gym Gang, Michael Bay, and Cocaine Cowboys
- Pain & Gain Premiere: Mark Wahlberg's Rhymes and Ed Harris' 'Roid Rage on the Red Carpet (VIDEO)
- Pain & Gain: From New Times Story to Michael Bay Film
The Sun Gym Sociopaths
We've already told you about how some characters were reimagined as composites of the real-life players in the story in order to simplify the film's plot. But writers also left out some of the more uncomfortable details about Daniel Lugo and his gang. In the movie, Lugo accomplice Adrian Doorbal meets and marries a nurse, which is true; in real life, he was working his way through a parade of strippers on the side. On screen, Lugo at first plans to free Victor Kershaw after he's signed over all his possessions to the gang; in real life, Pete Collins writes, Lugo intended to kill Marc Schiller (Victor Kershaw's real-life counterpart) from the beginning. The difference between what you see on screen and what really went down is the difference between Michael Bay's bumbling antiheroes and lying, cheating, cold-blooded killers.
Pain & Gain's ending scenes say that the pseudonym Victor Kershaw was used to protect the real victim. But it probably had more to do with the fact that Kershaw is depicted in the film as a giant a-hole. He's obnoxious about his wealth from the very beginning of the film, and can't help but insult his captors even as they're torturing them within an inch of their lives. But Marc Schiller told a different account to Pete Collins, one that involved a lot more crying, pleading for his life, and concern for his family, and a lot less, well, being a huge dick. Again, it's a ploy to make audiences care about the Sun Gym characters -- but wasn't there a way to accomplish that without telling the world that their real-life victim kinda deserved it?