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What's cool about the debut feature from 26-year-old writer/director Ben
Younger is that it's fresh and seemingly untampered with by the Hollywood
powers-that-be. The story often takes a back seat to intervals of
about the stock market and stock trading and completely unnecessary
rat-a-tat dialogue between one young punk and another. Movies weren't
this way. Directors couldn't always get away with this much. Most still
can't. Producers still have final cut most of the time and the `fat' is
trimmed. Which leads me to believe that it's all part of the Big Studio
Strategy. Get young butts in the seats by hiring young directors to make
Not such a far out idea, especially when it bears such fine results as Boiler Room. What it's about, in short, is a youngster with a serious bad bone and just a tiny little bit of a conscience, Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi). Seth kicks law school because the illegal card game he's running out of his apartment is generating so much money, he's made it a 24-7 operation and there just isn't time for school. We're expected to believe Seth actually thinks his father, a federal judge (Ron Rifkin), should be proud of him for his accomplishments.
While I am by no means done ribbing this film, I will say that it is quite good. Any film that paints an evil portrait of those who sell things over the telephone is okay in my book, but there's more behind my approval than that. Seth's relationship with his father is explored thoughtfully and believably. Rifkin is great in this rare supporting role (he's usually stuck in character acting hell). I liked how Younger dares you to care about this robot of a man, then slowly peels the layers away.
Then of course, there's Ribisi as Seth, who really eats up the role of a fast-talking, built to sell young gun stockbroker. The character is so very interesting because he's too good at what he does for his own good. A person watching this film might begin to ponder what they would do were they in his situation. What if someone told you that you were `guaranteed to make a million dollars' inside of three months? The full version of this speech is delivered by the Alec Baldwin-ized Ben Affleck, who gets a lot of acting mileage out of his two scenes. He swears at the new recruits Seth is among; he bends them, breaks them, spits at them, mocks them, throws his car keys at them until they're ready to bleed for $150.00 a week.
This brings me to my biggest hang up. It seems to me that half that conference room would be clear of people halfway through Affleck's tyrade. Here's the larger problem, though: The way these guys talk to potential clients over the phone! If the guy on the other end of the phone talked that way to you, would you really trust him with ten thousand dollars of your money? I am no Shirley Temple, but when a strange person says the f-word twelve times inside of a three-minute conversation, TRUST IS BROKEN DOWN. I doubt I'm the only one who observed this.
Boiler Room deserves the benefit of the doubt because it does what it sets out to do, which is, Get you thinking about the role of money in your life. You think about how there are just enough suckers out there to justify the existence of these persuasive, nearly abusive phone pitchmen. They can be anyone they want because you cannot see them. The trick is making you think you wanted to buy the shares all along. They get you to confess your dream to them, they re-package it, and then they sell it back to you. Wait, is it just me or does that sound a lot like the movie business? Even so, go ahead and buy a ticket to Boiler Room. You won't feel like a sucker.
Giovanni Ribisi has certainly come a long way from his appearances on the old TV series Wonder Years. He is an excellent actor. This story is as much about a father-son relationship as it is about selling stocks illegally. No, this is not a Glengarry Glen Ross, but it is certainly a fine effort. You will not walk away from this film thinking that you just watched a 10, however, I found myself interested throughout. Ron Rifkin is excellent as Marty Davis, a judge and father who loves his son but really doesn't know how to communicate with him. Special moments with Rifkin and Ribisi really elevate Boiler Room to a solid above average rating.
Despite being a college drop out, Seth Davis gets a job as a broker for
a small investment firm JT Marlin. With promises of his first million
within three years Seth gets into the high tension and fast paced world
of the boiler room the salesroom floor where he begins as a trainee.
He gradually grows within the organisation and starts seeing the
beautiful receptionist Abbie despite the fact that she used to be
with his new boss. However the deeper he goes, Seth begins to suspect
that it can't all be as good as it looks and is unlikely to be as legal
as he had been told it was.
It might be the fact that the film actually name checks Glengary Glen Ross and Wall Street but at times this feels that, like its characters, that it has watched these films too many times and has simply added a touch of Goodfellas to it to produce Boiler Room. However this is actually a bit unfair because the film has just about enough of its own to stand out as rather an enjoyable and interesting look at the ethics of certain sections of the business world. It doesn't help it be engaging by having the 'none of this is true or even based on truth' disclaimer thing up front I understand why they did that but it undermines things from the get go and doesn't help it get off to a good start. Despite this the narrative is strong enough to keep things moving forward despite the weaknesses. Younger does well to recreate the testosterone-fuelled world where money is the only thing that matters and it tends to be this energy that drives the film where subplots on relationships struggle.
The cast are a great help, featuring generally good performances despite the odd weak bit. Ribisi is the heart of the film and, although he doesn't totally convince in his narration he is a good lead, taking well to his character. Diesel usually strikes fear deep into my heart but here he is actually pretty good, as is Katt. Long is a good actress and great looking but this is not the best role she has had; she delivers it the best she can but the story uses her as a device at best. Caan is OK and Rifkin has a simple task to deliver. The only bum note was, surprise, surprise, Ben Affleck. His dialogue is OK but as the film struggles at times by coming over as a copy of better films, all I could think about with him was how great Alec Baldwin had been in pretty much the same role.
Overall this works and has enough energy to drive it forward despite itself. The disclaimer makes it a hard sell early on, while the references (direct and unintentional) to other films don't help it be its own master but the good cast help and Younger gets it through regardless. There are better films but this has the energy to appeal to a younger audience that will likely enjoy it.
Everything you feared might be true about the macho culture of Wall Street is duly confirmed by this gripping thriller; although in fact, the story is set in a small firm not actually on Wall Street, but operating in Long Island. Which is perhaps part of the reason this film is good rather than great. In telling the story of an obvious bad apple, it shies from the business of dredging the barrel: no opinion is offered as to whether the big finance houses are up to the same tricks, but only with more finesse. Still, the movie is compulsively watchable, although the ending is slightly anticlimactic and the plot a little stretched. And given the essential unlikeability of its characters, even the nominally sympathetic ones, that's a fair achievement.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As over-heated as its title suggests though more wasteful of energy
than a leaking kettle, 'Boiler Room' at least manages to duplicate the
efforts of its characters by promising much but delivering nothing.
Though ostensibly an insider view of Wall Street trading and an explanation of why the word 'stockbroker' has come to rank alongside 'double glazing salesman', the movie actually ducks the subject altogether and instead yields a one-note narrative about a criminal scam practised by a bunch of unappealing yobs who may well have a lifestyle that only the super-rich can afford yet on this evidence appear to exist in an unfurnished house watching TV re-runs of Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen showing how it was really done, way back when.
Such referencing isn't merely embarrassing. Here, it's downright disastrous, for not only is 'Wall Street' plundered to no effect but Mamet's searing 'Glengarry Glenross' is also dragged in, book-ended by dialog that was fresh when Lemon and Mamet handled it but in this outing is tedious to the point of being vapid.
The plot, such as it is, falls down more often than a drunk trader celebrating a Morgan Stanley bonus: the leading character's father is a judge at great pains to protect his reputation, yet makes no effort to check out the provenance of his son's place of employment; the FBI is investigating his son, but no convincing explanation is ever given as to why it should be trying to gather the dirt on him when evidence in abundance exists where every other employee is concerned; the lead character's girlfriend is, or is not, an FBI informer, though it's impossible to care either way; the scam involves the creation of non-existent pharmaceutical companies which nevertheless inexplicably feature in the stocks reporting in the financial pages of major newspapers.
With nothing whatever to hang on to other than a preposterously sentimentalised relationship with his screen father, Giovanni Ribisi struggles hard to make his character engaging, but fails, largely because there's no sense of loss for the audience to share in come the denouement Ribisi's character starts the movie with a Volvo station wagon and finishes the movie with a Volvo station wagon, none of the riches-beyond-imagination to which the movie frequently refers seemingly coming his way.
At a running time of 115 minutes, 'Boiler Room' is 105 minutes longer than a sequence in 'The Sopranos' in which Christopher presides over a not dissimilar operation and his two psychotic henchmen beat up a trader who is actually trying to do an honest job of work.
As 'The Sopranos' achieved more impact with that throw-away sequence than anything managed by 'Boiler Room', it's pretty clear that this is a movie that certainly doesn't warrant any kind of 'buy' recommendation.
It is very refreshing seeing Ribisi finally playing a good guy. He delivers an outstanding performance and has a great chemistry with Vin Diesel. A movie similar to the movie classic "Wall Street" and yet different. We once again get taken into the world of stocks and brokers and it is done in such a lovely way that it is just a joy to watch. "Boiler Room" is another movie that shows the audience how dangerous the stock market can be for both, broker and customer. This movie, unlike other movie with a similar theme, also focus on the effect of the sales and stocks on the customers not only the brokers. It shows us how destructive just a single sale can be and how easily a simple hard working citizen can loose everything, including their family. In conclusion we can say that "Boiler Room" doesn't quiet hold up as good as "Wall Street" but it most certainly is a close second.
Before you decide whether to watch "Boiler Room" you need to decide if
you are willing to watch a movie with the F-bomb being dropped
323420854 times. It is an excellent film...but if you are offended by
cursing, look elsewhere.
The story is about Seth, a young man with little in the way of conscience. Instead of working hard the normal and expected way, Seth wants to cut corners. So while his peers go to college, he skips classes and opens a casino in his house...and makes a ton of money. However, Seth's hard-as-nails father is naturally disappointed in him...and makes that obvious. Wanting to make something of himself and impress his dad, Seth goes to work for a trading company. But this is not exactly the Wall Street variety firm but instead their attitude is say and do ANYTHING to make the sale...anything. They're obviously a sleazy outfit but just how sleazy is something Seth has to discover for himself...and even with Seth is a bit appalled by this...but he loves all the money!
The film is coarse and crass--and this is appropriate for the 20- somethings that star in the film. They are, by and large, guys with no souls and are motivated by greed and self-indulgence. The overall film is much like "Glengarry Glen Ross" and "Wall Street" merged into one...and targeted to a slightly younger audience. Well made and hard to see without being impressed. However, I am very surprised that after writing and directing such a fine film that Ben Younger STILL is mostly making short films and his feature career hasn't taken off. I'd sure love to know why...
Boiler Room starring Giovanni Ribisi. Scene enters where takes the
bait, diving into a stock-selling brokerage of sorts paying larger than
seemingly possible commissions to its obsessed new recruits. The bland
looking Giovanni is great with his attentive, yet skeptical, always-
thinking plain-faced appearance.
Giovanni's father isn't easy to please. The best scenes of the movie are between he and his judge-dad, "I'm not your best friend, I'm your father." Giovanni desperately tries to explain his side, his father interrupts, "What side? You're wrong!"
Vin Diesel also gives a solid performance as the senior partner who takes Giovanni under his wings, far from his mold where he is today. The first act stalls and is quite a development but the second act comes into fruition, as we see the schemes unfold.
The story is really a standard take on the negative side of the stockbroker's world. The movie has all the distinct ingredients like the ones they have in the movie Wall Street, the one this movie referred by having the cast watch it. They both has the stockbroker characters of course, the scams, the sweet talks, brushes with the law enforcement, and the eventual busting of the bubble. Somehow I think that this will even make its own movie sub genre. Yet I feel that this movie lacks strength due to it uses a weird selection for its cast, thus making the acting overall feels a little bit weird. Giovanni Ribisi, while experienced, doesn't really have the face and the character depth to do this role. Putting the more physical Vin Diesel as a successful stockbroker just doesn't cut it. Ben Affleck did a good job on his role here, particularly with all those lengthy spirited dialog lines. It's too bad that his character's appearance feels very much random.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Boiler Room (2000): Dir: Ben Younger / Cast: Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nicky Katt, Ben Affleck, Nia Long: Film suggests places that we hide sin. A group of young males assemble together to ruin as many lives as possible while striking it rich. Giovanni Ribisi joins a firm as a stockbroker. He dropped out of school and makes money at illegal gambling. His father is a judge and disapproves of his son's choice of work. May remind viewers of Wallstreet although formula elements occur. Fine directing by Ben Younger with rather bland locations. Sly performance by Ribisi caught between temporary satisfaction through a worthless lifestyle, and disappointing his father. We know what is ahead but it is the friendships that cause Ribisi the biggest concern. Vin Diesel and Nicky Katt play veteran brokers but only Diesel comes off as three dimensional as he not only teaches Ribisi the robes, he also reluctantly understands his crucial decision. Katt unfortunately is playing a rival broker whom Ribisi won't impress, which leads to predictable tension. Ben Affleck is there to shout profanities in long meetings to motivate everyone into action. It is the worst role in the film. Nia Long is more or less featured as a possible romantic interest. While this is no Wallstreet, it is a worthy comparison. Message regards alertness to subduing operations within the dark compounds of deceit. Score: 7 / 10
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