Pain and Gain – Movie Review



IMDB Rating – 6.5

IMDB Blurb – A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.


Has it ever happened to you that you end up watching a movie without knowing absolutely anything about it and it turned out to be more than just a decent movie in the end? And not just a decent movie, but a movie with a engaging storyline, a busy screenplay and some good acting performances. Well, that is precisely what Pain and Gain turned out to be for me on an early Saturday morning.

All I knew about the movie was what I gleaned from the poster, that it had Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson in it, the line which said “Their American Dream is bigger than yours” and the line below which read “This is a true story.” I started watching the movie without too much expectation and boy, did it turn out to be a good movie or what.

Victor Kershaw, enjoying all the bling
Victor Kershaw, enjoying all the bling

Daniel Lugo (yet another wonderful addition to Mark Wahlberg’s already stellar career) plays a personal trainer at Sun Gym in Miami, Florida. He is friends with a colleague Adrian Doorbal (played by Anthony Mackie) who likes Lugo for his great attitude to life. Lugo starts lusting for his version of “The American Dream”, the one where big money, a lavish lifestyle and stylish cars rule the roost. And inspired by a motivational speaker, Lugo decides to do something about making it happen. His target – his newest gym member, Victor Kershaw (played memorably well by Tony Shalhoub).

The trio
The trio

The duo recruit the gym’s newest employee, Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson in a hilariously funny role, albeit in a dark manner) for their plan and they decide to kidnap Victor and extort all his assets. Barring a few initial hiccups, the plan goes well and the trio end up with more than just a little money. However, their attempt to kill Victor goes horribly wrong and he ends up in a hospital. I found this sequence extraordinarily hilarious, albeit in a morbidly black-humorish kind of way. The trio and their attempts to get rid of Victor forms for the funniest part of the movie in my opinion.

This triggers off a chain of events which somehow end up with the trio attempting to kidnap Frank Griga. That attempt goes horribly wrong and provides the impetus for the Miami Police to conduct an extremely comprehensive operation to round up the trio based on inputs from Victor and his personal investigator, Ed du Bois III (yet another lovely cameo from Ron Howard).

The trio making their plans
The trio making their plans

What I particularly loved about the movie was the fact that although it was based on true events and real people, the director took the material, made it his own and probably gave each of these characters a lot of detailing which ended up in most of them being memorable for the viewers. Dwayne Johnson, as Paul  Doyle probably stands out from the rest of the crowd with his hilariously funny characterization of a born again Christian who is also a cokehead at the same time. Mark Wahlberg can surely add this performance to his already long and illustrious list of wonderful movies in his career. This guy is probably one of the most under-rated actors of our time.

Watch this movie with an open mind and without too many expectations and you will surely enjoy it as much as I did.



3 thoughts on “Pain and Gain – Movie Review

  1. Nice review. Very strange movie in terms of its tone, and how Bay approaches telling the story, but still an entertaining piece of some sick and twisted real-life crimes.

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