Pretty inspiring I guess, but over the course of this recovery story the real story of the film slowly takes shape. At times, a narrator (Frank Grillo) steps in to let viewers know that the rehabilitation industry, as a result of the ACA provisions, has exploded in recent years – grossing more than $ 12 million a year in the only region of southern California. A new breed of crooks have arrived on the scene to recoup as much of this money as possible by bringing patients to the beds of rehab clinics by any means necessary where their insurance can be billed for outrageous costs ($ 2,000 for a simple urine test) that they, and sometimes the patients themselves, will receive bribes. Wood is one of those so called “body brokers” and brings the recovered Utah into the game. After some initial apprehension, Utah quickly falls down and soon happily drives tons of addicts to an unscrupulous doctor ( Peter Greene) to receive implants of a medically questionable but highly billable nature. Utah then begins to have doubts about what he is doing, but by then it may be too late for him to come out clean, so to speak.
It’s the kind of muckraking thriller Steven Soderbergh could do in his sleep peeling the curtains while maintaining the human drama. But if the premise here is quite interesting, our hero is decidedly less. And once the story becomes less interested in exposing systemic institutional abuses, it simply focuses more on its journey to the dark side and back. We have seen all of this many times before. The end of the movie is an even bigger issue, as it attempts to land on a dark and realistic note but one that turns out too abrupt and unsatisfying for its own good.
And yet, if “Body Brokers” never quite come together, there is enough going on. Michael Kenneth Williams is pretty good as a guide to Utah on the sordid side of the salvage business, which encompasses everything from essentially selling patients to the highest-bidding rehab center, to digging holes. for those who get out of line along the way. Frank Grillo is also entertaining as he delivers his sardonic narration and also appears in front of the camera in a role that I will let you discover. And while neither have much to do, Jessica Rothe and Melissa Leo both do important work as representatives of the non-exploitative side of the rehabilitation world. The film’s most memorable performance comes from veteran actor Peter Greene – he’s sensational in a brief turn as a cadaver-looking doctor who’s into one of the scams until he commits the mistake of becoming greedy.