Body Brokers is a based on true events film that tackles the business behind drug treatment centers that have been thriving off the long-standing opioid epidemic. Young heroin addict Utah (Jack Kilmer) is the focal point of the story; he works through recovery and provides a lens into how “body brokers” have manipulated the healthcare system and drug treatment centers for well over a decade. Directed and written by John Swab, Body Brokers delivers a much-needed understanding of how the elites in American society are milking the pain of addicts.
Smack in the Face: Body Brokers wakes you up to some real-life horrors within the first few moments of the film. Then, there is a halt. The film directs a narrative around Utah (Kilmer) and his big decision to get clean after a stranger (Michael Kenneth Williams) offers some help. But, like a whirlwind, we are pressed back into some harsh realities that most Americans want to ignore about drug treatment. There are moments wherein Body Brokers feels more like a documentary. That is not a knock on the film — it's praise for how informative the film is. Before the second act, you will likely be disgusted with the behind-the-scenes bureaucracy of the opioid epidemic.
Accessible: Remember how The Big Short slowed things down to explain the financial crisis of the housing crash in the late 2000s? There is the essence of that method in Body Brokers. It’s like an hour and 51-minute TED Talk that we all need about opioid treatment. Anyone can watch this film for the information and feel competent. Body Brokers also has some reflections of the approach 99 Homes had, narrating the story from both sides, but from the same individual. The narrative is lucid, and that takes away the stress of getting befuddled; you can just get angry instead.
Realistic: Body Brokers is realistic from beginning to end. The fake, late-night T.V. ads for treatment centers are haunting. The distant, front-stage commitments displayed by rehab “specialists” are disconcerting, yet the common ground foundation of narcotics anonymous meetings is welcoming.
Misses Perfection: The film suffers at times due to some inexperienced acting. Frank Grillo and Michael Kenneth Williams have been through their fair share of supporting roles, but nothing close to the tone that Body Brokers emanates. Jack Kilmer does his best to carry in the lead role, but it is clear the fine supporting characters are needed to give him some relief. However, the honesty of Body Brokers easily sets these issues in the backseat.