Matchup of the Day: Pain & Gain vs. Munich
Today we have two films based on actual events that were criticized for inaccuracies – Pain & Gain vs. Munich
Pain & Gain tells the tale of three bodybuilders, the Sun Gym Gang, who kidnap an abrasive businessman in order to force him to sign over all his wealth and property. This leads to an attempted murder and two deaths. The main characters, and perpetrators of the crimes, are played by Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie. Tony Shalhoub plays the abductee. The film portrays the bizarre caper as darkly comedic, though it has been criticised for showing the criminals in a sympathetic light.
Munich is based on the Israeli government’s Operation Wrath of God. After the Israeli olympic team was killed by Palestinian terrorists in 1972, Israel sent a team of Mossad assassins to retaliate against the individuals responsible for the planning the massacre. The film attempts to show the blurry moral realities involved in government sponsored assassination, as well as with with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Critics of the film have accused it of oversimplifying the issue or not exploring it far enough.
One major criticism of Munich points out that, though the film is about the moral ambiguity and moral conflict experienced by the Israeli assassins, the film fails to address the Lillehammer affair. The real-life assassins mistakenly killed an innocent man in Lillehammer, Norway after falsely identifying him as a high-level terrorist. Showing that incident in Munich would have added more complexity.
The real kidnapping victim Shalhoub plays in Pain & Gain, Marc Schiller, wrote two books about his ordeal at the hands of the criminal bodybuilders. He disagreed with how he was negatively portrayed as a jerk in the film, while the villains were likable, and sued Paramount Pictures.