Body Brokers follows addict Utah (Jack Kilmer) as he goes through the process of rehabilitation, aided by former user Wood (Michael Kenneth Williams), who reveals the seedy underbelly of America’s healthcare system.
The story sets its sights directly on exposing the capitalist machine and the way it commodifies human life, with Frank Grillo’s energetic narration not pulling a single punch as the inner workings of the structure are stripped bare.
However, the movie doesn’t commit as hard to this angle as it perhaps should have. Sometimes it feels as if it can’t decide if it’s a high-energy criminal thriller or an exposé on the systematic abuse of the American healthcare system. The feature has to juggle a lot of narrative balls, including the protagonist’s turn to the capitalistic dark side, his romantic escapades and the overarching exploration of the American dream, but by the end of the flick it’s clear that not every narrative beat got the breathing room necessary.
Still, the work makes the points it set out to make, even if sometimes it doesn’t fully commit to them. Cinematographic languages are mixed in an interesting and engaging way through the acting and camera work, with genres butting up against each other as the story progresses. At its best, this film is an exciting look into a deeply broken system, driven by an anger and upset that manifests strongly in its visuals and scripting.
Kilmer puts in a serviceable but uninspiring performance as Utah, playing his role as the audience surrogate well but not doing much to help with this movie’s identity crisis. However, Williams is very compelling as the disillusioned Wood and his performance fills in the gaps in the dynamic between the two, helping to drive the ideological disputes at the heart of the film home a little harder.
Body Brokers has a lot of passion and ambition behind it, while it doesn’t stick the landing on every point it tries to make, it’s an entertaining yet sobering watch.
Body Brokers is released digitally on demand on 8th March 2021.
Watch the trailer for Body Brokers here: