Seeing as the film is grounded in a very serious real-life issue, I feel I should give a fair warning to anyone reading this: If you or anyone you love has struggled with drug addiction, Body Brokers will not be an easy watch.
Synopsis for Body Brokers
Brought to Los Angeles for treatment, a recovering junkie soon learns that the rehab centre is not about helping people — it’s merely a cover for a multibillion dollar fraud operation that enlists addicts to recruit other addicts.
While I feel that the director had some very noble goals in exposing what actually goes on behind-closed-doors in some treatment centers, I feel the film lacks focus, bouncing between Frank Grillo’s Vin delivering bookend Big Short style narration, the protagonist’s journey to get clean, and his life and morally dubious work after completion of rehab. It definitely could have used a few more edits to polish things up. The film’s first act is a rather slow setup, and the last two acts seem disjointed in both editing execution and intent.It also wasn’t helped by the performance work of its lead, Jack Kilmer (Lords of Chaos). For a character we’re supposed to be connecting to, even in the worst of scenarios, he seems rather nonplussed and distracted by something offscreen rather than playing a character. This becomes distracting later in the film when all these deeply distressing things happen to the character and he seems to be unable to express his stress above the level of “my pizza is 2 minutes late”.
This isn’t to say the film is completely lacking in good qualities. Michael Kenneth Williams (The Purge: Anarchy) is transfixing in his role of Wood, the man who brings Kilmer’s character, Utah, into rehab, initially to get a referral bonus, but eventually turns into a mentor and friend to Utah. Williams’ performance deserves as much credit as I can possibly give because his character is charismatic as hell. One minute he’ll be your best friend, bending any rules he can to help his buddy, the next, he’ll lay you out and ruin your life. Jessica Rothe, also known as Tree in the Happy Death Day series, is also quite engaging and charming for the few scenes she gets featured, first as an assisting nurse in Utah’s treatment, then his love interest once he gets clean.
While I think the concept of the film is a good one, exposing the commoditization of human beings for the sake of pure greed rather than actual healthcare; I feel that Body Brokers suffers from a lack of an engaged and engaging lead, and a lack of narrative focus on where it wants to go and what it wants to say. The bookends with Grillo hit hard, and Michael Kenneth Williams gives a stellar performance, but it’s not enough to elevate this film to a must-watch.
Body Brokers is scheduled for a February 19 release date in Theaters and on Digital and On Demand. You can get the Apple pre-order – HERE.