In 1995, schemer Daniel Lugo (Mark Wahlberg) is a recently released convict who had served time for Medicare fraud. Sun Gym owner John Mese (Rob Corddry) hires him to increase membership and make the gym more fitness-based. Lugo increases the gym’s membership by 75% within six weeks and befriends trainer Adrian Doorbal (Anthony Mackie), a bodybuilder who uses steroids, which render him impotent. Lugo soon lusts after the earnings and lifestyle achieved by Victor Kershaw (Tony Shalhoub), a sleazy, new gym member he begins to train who Lugo believes is a crook. Inspired by motivational speaker Johnny Wu (Ken Jeong), Lugo decides to be a “do-er” and hatches a plan to extort Kershaw for his assets by kidnapping and torturing him.
Lugo recruits accomplices Doorbal and Paul Doyle (Dwayne Johnson), a recently released, cocaine-addicted convict who has turned to Christianity. Though Doyle is reluctant to join the team, he soon caves in after a violent altercation with his priest. This “Sun Gym gang” unsuccessfully attempts to kidnap Kershaw at home, and a second time in public, but later incapacitates him with a taser outside his deli and takes him to a small warehouse he owns (which is stocked with sex toys). The kidnappers wear masks and Lugo disguises his voice, but Kershaw identifies Lugo from his distinctive cologne. The scheme goes as planned otherwise: Kershaw makes calls, under duress, to provide false explanations for his disappearance, gets his family to move out of state, and signs the documents that transfer his assets to Lugo. Lugo even bribes John Mese to notarize documents in Kershaw’s absence, by presenting documents signed by Kershaw and using Kershaw’s money to sponsor the Sun Gym.
The Sun Gym gang is able to collect Kershaw’s money and assets, but they realize releasing him is a bad idea. Therefore, Lugo concocts a plan to kill Kershaw by forcing him to drink liquor and crash his BMW, making it appear like a drunk driving accident. When Kershaw survives the crash, the gang burns the car with Kershaw in it. Kershaw escapes the blazing vehicle, so the gang runs over his body, twice, and leaves him for dead. Unbeknownst to them, Kershaw survives and is hospitalized. The Sun Gym gang members spoil themselves with Kershaw’s riches. Lugo takes over Kershaw’s car and his home in a ritzy Miami suburb; Doorbal marries the nurse who has been treating his impotence, Robin (Rebel Wilson), and uses his cut to purchase penile erection treatments; and Doyle abandons his restraints of religion and sobriety, and blows away his money on cocaine and his new stripper girlfriend.
Kershaw reports what happened to the police, but they are turned off by his unpleasant manner and do not believe his bizarre story even when he gives them Daniel Lugo’s name, particularly because of Kershaw’s blood alcohol level and the fact that Kershaw was born in a South American country well known for its involvement in the drug trade. He then contacts Ed Du Bois, III (Ed Harris), a retired private investigator, who declines to take the case but warns Kershaw to quickly leave the hospital before the gang returns to kill him. Kershaw takes his advice and hides in a cheap motel. Upon reflection, Du Bois takes Kershaw’s case and tails the Sun Gym gang. He visits the Sun Gym and meets with Lugo, who becomes suspicious after Du Bois mentions Kershaw’s name.
When Kershaw furiously calls Mese about his stolen money, Lugo, Doyle, and Doorbal *69 the call, thereby identifying where it originated, and go to the motel to kill Kershaw; however, they arrive too late, as he has checked himself out and is hiding at an abandoned baseball stadium. When Lugo and Doorbal discover that Du Bois is paying for Kershaw’s room using Du Bois’ credit card, they plan to kidnap Du Bois at his home. They arrive at the house, but the plot is thwarted when the police stop by to drop off Du Bois. In order to evade arrest, Lugo and Doorbal run and jump off Du Bois’ dock into the water.
Du Bois gets a message from Kershaw and goes to the stadium to take him home. Meanwhile Doyle, who has wasted all of his share of the spoils, attempts to rob an armored car. However, dye packs planted in the money bag explode, and he narrowly escapes the police, getting his toe shot off in the process. He and Doorbal (who depleted his share on payments for treatments, his and Robin’s wedding, and a new home) explain to Lugo they need more money, and the gang plans another kidnapping.
They target the wealthy Frank Griga (Michael Rispoli), who owns a phone sex operation. After a promising discussion at Griga’s mansion, the gang invites Griga and his wife Krisztina Furton (Keili Lefkowitz) to Doorbal’s home to propose an investment scheme. Griga insists on meeting with someone more senior and questions Lugo’s amateurish business savvy. This angers Lugo, who attacks Griga and accidentally kills him. Krisztina discovers this and tries to shoot Lugo, but Doorbal injects her with a potent horse tranquilizer. Lugo and Doyle try to use codes obtained from a heavily sedated Krisztina to open a safe at her and Griga’s home, but the codes do not work. When Krisztina rouses and tries to escape, Doorbal gives her a second injection, accidentally causing her to fatally overdose.
Lugo and Doorbal purchase equipment to dismember and dispose of the bodies and dump the body parts in oil drums, which they sink in a secluded lake outside Miami, while Doyle incinerates their hands on a barbecue grill to eliminate their fingerprints. Forced by the violence and gore to realize what he’s become, Doyle leaves the gang and returns to the priest’s church. The police learn of Griga and Krisztina’s disappearances, and with evidence from Du Bois, they set a plan to arrest the Sun Gym gang.
The film returns to June 17: the police arrest Doyle at the church, Doorbal at home, and Mese at the Sun Gym. Lugo, also at the gym, spots the approaching police force and flees. Although struck by a police cruiser, he escapes and heads out by sea in Kershaw’s speedboat. Kershaw and Du Bois deduce Lugo is going after the former’s hidden bank account in Nassau, Bahamas and accompany the police to capture him. Lugo’s pursuers catch up with him, and he attempts to escape. Du Bois shoots Lugo, Kershaw chases him in a car and incapacitates him, and the authorities arrest him.
Lugo is brought back to the United States and stands trial with Doyle, Doorbal, and Mese. At the trial, Doyle rolls over on Doorbal and Lugo with a full confession, and meanwhile Robin has divorced Doorbal the night before and testifies against him. Ultimately, the four are convicted.
The end credits reveal the fates of the main characters:
- Daniel Lugo was sentenced to death, plus 30 days for “being an asshole” to a guard.
- Adrian Doorbal was sentenced to death.
- Paul Doyle, for his full confession, was sentenced to 15 years, serves seven years, goes free, tries to apologize, and converts back to Christianity.
- John Mese was sentenced to 15 years and died in prison.
- Victor Kershaw’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor.
- Sorina Luminita’s name was changed in the film to protect the survivor. She’s currently not a movie star.
The movie ends with Lugo’s saying: “That’s the American dream”.