Real People Who Were Worse Than Their Biopic Portrayed

In 2013, director Michael Bay took a break from “Transformers” movies to make “Pain & Gain,” a crime caper comedy starring Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Anthony Mackie, and Tony Shalhoub. Wahlberg plays Adrian Doorbal, a bodybuilder who recruits two friends from his local gym (Johnson and Mackie) for a scheme to kidnap and extort a wealthy businessman (Shalhoub).

Based on the so-called “Sun Gym Gang” and the real-life attempted murder of Marc Schiller, the film was adapted from a series of articles in the Miami New Times. But it also put a comedic twist on events, often downplaying the viciousness of their crimes and turning the affair into something of a joke. While the film attempts to portray the criminal trio as a group of bumbling, misguided malcontents, the reality was far more grisly.

For the film, Bay may have wanted to make the characters more sympathetic and acting out of pure desperation. The true story, however, is that the Sun Gym Gang was calculating and cruel. And the film outright invents some of their goofier moments, like their use of Halloween costumes when kidnapping their target. Their later murder of another man, portrayed as an accident in the film, was anything but a mistake. Even the wealthy Shalhoub character (Victor Kershaw in the film) wasn’t so innocent and was nabbed by the FBI not long after the incident for a $14 million insurance scam, ultimately serving nearly four years behind bars.

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