Before even watching this film, I experienced a variety of feelings towards it. When I first saw the trailer I thought this looked like it was going to be a good laugh and lots of fun to watch. Then I found out the truth behind the story and decided against watching it as I didn’t think I would be able to enjoy it knowing what had really happened – but then, curiosity got the better of me and I changed my mind and went to see it anyway, to see what it was all about – fully expecting to come out appalled at the bad taste. Luckily however, this wasn’t quite the case.
I think it’s important to know that this is in fact a true story – and quite a horrific one at that. Lugo and Doorbal are actually sitting on death row because of their crimes – hence my scepticism in paying good money to go and watch a ‘comedy’ about this. It may be hard to believe this is a true story as scenes unfold, but it is in fact all true (you can easily find online the stories about the real life crime), and we are in fact reminded half way through that “This is STILL a true story” during a particularly unbelievable scene, just to remind us these guys really were that incredibly moronic.
I am glad to say however, that the comedy in this film is not about laughing with the Sun Gym gang, but more at them, and just how stupid they really are and the bizarre nature of the situation.
The film begins by trying to make Lugo seem like a normal guy down on his luck, but you soon get to see him for the “manipulator of all manipulators” that he really is. The crimes are senseless and sadistic and in a bid to try and keep you from losing the characters too early the millionaire kidnapee is made out to be a complete and utter bellend (Which in reality is not entirely true if you read about the real story). However it is not long lasting and you will soon be hating Lugo (as well you should). The only member of the gang you may not hate is Doyle (the only fictional character, but is a combination of real life personas involved in the real crimes), who at least seems remorseful about his actions, and is constantly manipulated by Lugo to complete tasks he doesn’t want to do. And, it has to be said, that Dwayne Johnson aka WWE’s The Rock shines in this role and steals most of the scenes he is in.
The film continues with the kidnapping of millionaire Victor Kershaw (not the name of the real victim) and the torture of him to try and get him to sign over his life – I know what you’re thinking, this doesn’t sound funny, and you’re right, it is not.
The film has been absolutely slated by critics, although in all honestly, this isn’t a bad film – yes it may seem a strange concept to make a comedy out of it, although it is not quite the comedy that is made out in the trailer . However I actually found the story telling very interesting. The input of narrative from the perspective of all the characters really adds to the story and adds depths to the characters, allowing you to see them for who they really are – for example Lugo claiming he wanted to be like everyone else and that he’s a nice guy and Kershaw isn’t so he should be allowed to take his things – demonstrating how delusional the character is. Walhberg also hasn’t had the best reviews but I thought he did quite a good job, playing the mood swings and manipulative delusion of Daniel Lugo very well.
This is by no means a classic, and you probably won’t rush to see it again, but all in all it isn’t too bad. Some may need to leave their moral compass at the door due to the films subject, but honestly this doesn’t glamourise the Sun Gym gang the way the trailer suggests. It probably is worth a watch if you fancy a trip to the cinema and aren’t sure what else to see.
I’d give this a 5-6 out of 10.