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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

True Crime

Pain & Gain on IMDb

Plot Overview

far sightedbriefcasemotivational speechDanny Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) grew up envying a neighbor kid who got a new bike every Christmas and went on European vacations with his folks. In early adult­hood he ran a Medicare scam, got busted for the white collar crime, apologized profusely to the court (“Methinks the lady doth protest too much”—William Shakes­peare,) and did time at Club Fed Correctional. Once out he got hired by Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) to improve their member­ship numbers, which he accomplished handily. He was promoted to senior fitness manager but was like a character in a John Sandford novel, “because of the under­lying self-righteousness, anger, spite … what­ever. She wore it like a gown. He'd seen it often enough in government work, people who felt that they were better than those around them; a princess kidnapped by gypsies, and raised below her station” (150). He was forlornly “looking at another forty years of wearing sweat pants to work.” He was ripe for the plucking by motivational speaker Jonny Wu (Ken Jeong) to do some­thing about it.

money bagsHalf-Jew, new gym member Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub) did a lot of unwise boasting about his manifold assets, and Danny decided to fleece the obnoxious fellow. To help his sorry self, he recruited gym trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie) who needed an expensive procedure to cure his steroid-induced shrunken dick. He also brought on board ex-con, body builder Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson) who was disillusioned by his church and needed a friend. Don't expect master­minds here; these are the dumbest crooks I've ever seen in a movie.


The one smart cookie in this sadly true tale is an unassuming hausfrau Carolyn 'Cissy' DuBois (Emily Rutherfurd) whose advice to her husband is worth noting. It's similar to the guy talk in (Prov. 30:1) “The words of Agur the son of Jakeh, even the prophecy: the man spake unto Ithiel, even unto Ithiel and Ucal,”

(Prov. 30:2-3) “Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the under­standing of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy.” She doesn't put on airs of being some great guru or any­thing like that. What she's got is home­spun horse sense. She leaves the fishing to her husband and won't even touch the worms.

(Prov. 30:4) “Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son's name, if thou canst tell?” She doesn't have an in with the almighty. Who does? Victor threatens his menacing captor, “When I get to heaven, I'm gonna tell Jesus what you did.” I'm not sure it works that way. Jonny Wu's line is, “If I believe I deserve it, the universe will serve it.” I'm not sure it works that way either.

church(Prov. 30:5-6) “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” Wu's line is that there are two kinds of people in the world: do-ers and don't-ers. He wants his followers to be the do-ers (“Get a Goal. Get a plan. And get up off your ass!”) But God has do's and don't's, I believe. He wanted the Jews to work six days and do no regular work on the seventh. Victor celebrated Shabbat. God wanted us to be fruitful and multiply, but not divorce for no good reason. There's an advert for condoms and Wu divorced his wife for newer models. God doesn't want us to do drugs and there was some of that. Pastor Randy (Larry Hankin) of the Mission Apostolica del Christo Church said Jesus can give us rest. Right on! He added that, “I can give you rest, too,” as he played with Paul's pecs. That's not how it works either.

(Prov. 30:7) “Two things have I required of thee; deny me them not before I die:” Paul points out that Florida is God's waiting room: a lot of tanned people waiting to die.

cherry pie(Prov. 30:8-9) “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” It's good to avoid extremists like Wu. Cissy just suggested to her husband that he retire with what he had and enjoy long restful days. We see a delicious cherry pie she baked him, and some rolls. As for the hustlers' scheme, when it turns out successful, Paul forgets God and goes back to snorting coke. When their schemes go sour there are excuses (“I swear to God”) using God to justify them­selves. As Cissy put it, “Some people just don't know a good thing when it's staring them in the face.” She's in line with, (1Tim. 6:6-8) “godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be there­with content.” (Sirach 29:21) “The chief thing for life is water, and bread, and clothing, and an house to cover shame.” That was all attainable with­out taking extraordinary measures.

Production Values

gospel choir” (2013) was directed by Michael Bay. The screenplay was written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, based on magazine articles by Pete Collins detailing the true crime. It stars Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. They pulled it off quite nicely. Adrian in real life was White but he was portrayed by a black Mackie in the movie. Go figure. Paul ended singing “Amazing Grace” in the mostly black prison choir.

MPAA rated it R for bloody violence, crude sexual content, nudity, language throughout and drug use. This black comedy portrays real events, with some artistic license thrown in make it interesting. There are some decent action scenes in it as well as gory dis­mem­ber­ments for the body disposals. Runtime is 2 hours 9 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

prayingPaul's prison conversion to Christianity seemed genuine enough, but he was in a bad place and his church out­side had some failings too. He fell away from the faith but returned eventually. It happens.

The stupidity of the crooks was beyond belief, which is what made the movie so funny. I actually liked that it didn't portray law­breakers as bright stars but as misguided and slow. The prosperity gospel was put in its place. What happened to the schemers in real life is shown at the end.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Apocryphal scripture taken from The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. U.S.A.: Hendrickson Pub. Originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. Web.

Sandford, John. Silken Prey. Copyright © 2013 by John Sandford. New York: Berkley Books, 2014. Print.