Body Brokers (2021)

In an industry like the American healthcare industry, sub-markets like drug rehabilitation become specialties with high price tags and high revenue. When each person becomes a dollar sign and not a patient, some will stop at almost nothing to keep bodies in their facilities beds. Body Brokers explores how this can happen and how much some can make while filling these beds with some desperate, and some not so desperate, souls.

Written and directed by John Swab, Body Brokers makes some very interesting points on the current state of medical affairs in the United States while also delivering a drama about those affected by this and those taking advantage of it all. When it comes down to it, the film unfortunately spends more time making the viewer care about the ones who abuse the needy than the needy themselves. There is a real missed opportunity here in making this a truly powerful film about how drug rehabilitation is more needed than prison sentences for their usage. The story here is interesting, but there should have been much more to it, it had so much more opportunity that feels a bit wasted in the end.

The cast here is interesting in that top billed is Frank Grillo who gives an odd take on the rehab facility owner by giving him an air of a high class scammer, his top billing would lead one to believe he would have a lot more screen time than he does here. He shows a few times and does the narration, but his presence is seemingly minimal, so the billing is based on name recognition more than anything else. His work here gives the viewer a character that feels like he shouldn’t be trusted, which is just right for the film. In the actual lead of Utah is Jack Kilmer who looks familiar in that his style is reminiscent of many other actors having come before him to similar parts. His work is however what matters here and he does well with his part, imbuing his character with a vulnerability and that little something extra that makes him more than just another skeevy dude taking advantage of his fellow humans. Playing a much skeevier character is Michael Kenneth Williams as Wood, the man who finds Utah and “makes” him. His work makes his character come off as one of those sales people who make your skin crawl. The supporting cast has a few familiar faces and they all do well here, so it’s a strong ensemble overall.

Throughout the film, a few scenes and sequences come up on top and show there is an artistic eye behind the camera. Those scene are very pretty to look at and definitely add to the interest of a film that is not meant to be one watched for its aesthetics or looks. This is a film made to pass a message and the visuals are extra. That being said, those visuals have a few truly inspired moments here and there and these can easily be attributed to the cinematography of Matt Clegg who adapts his look on the story to each scene and to each need, giving certain moments more than the others in a way that truly makes them stand out.

Body Brokers is a film that has an important message, but it gets a little lost in the proceedings. The narration brings it back on track at the end, but it should not have taken this to make it be able to pass its message. For those looking to watch this to see Grillo, be prepared to get minimal presence from the top billed actor. For those simply looking for a drama with a bit of conscience about the drug rehabilitation industry, this may be the right choice for a quick evening at home.