I don’t tend to cuss much in my reviews, but f**k Martin Shkreli. Brent Hodge’s Pharma Bro is about “the most hated man in America.” No, the director does not fashion a biography chronicling his life from birth until the present. Nor is the documentary a straight look at what landed him in prison. No, Hodge (who’s Who Let The Dogs Out is one of the best documentaries of the last decade) goes on a wide-ranging mission to try and understand Shkreli, uncover the machinations that allowed his price gouging, and dive into what makes a person think he’s above the law.
If that sounds like a lot of movie, well, it is. But Hodge, ever the perfectionist and master storyteller, balances each element into a riveting thread and even successfully drops a major bombshell with 10-minutes left that will leave viewers breathless with surprise. But first, a bit of backstory for those not in the know.
“…a wide-ranging mission to try and understand Shkreli, uncover the machinations that allowed his price gouging, and dive into what makes a person think he’s above the law.”
When he was the head of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli upped the price of Daraprim from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill, an uptick of 3000% or some astronomical number like that. The ensuing controversy, which the young, smart lad happily played into, pissed off just about every person everywhere. Then, a bit after that, the FBI knocked on his door and arrested him on securities fraud charges. Now, Shkreli is incarcerated in a federal penitentiary in Pennsylvania.
But all that is just the facts, something that could be gleaned from watching a rather well-done CNN exposé. No, Pharma Bro has more to offer than merely going through the timeline of events. For starters, the director plays up the villain angle to brilliant effect, using comic-style transitions of Shkreli as a Dr. Doom-style supervillain. These illustrations are very striking and well done.
"…if that sounds like a lot of movie, well, it is."