Boiler Room (2000)
Get Rich Quick
They say money can't buy happiness? Look at the fucking smile on my face. Ear to ear, baby - Jim Young
"Boiler Room" is an interesting movie, one which attempts to delve into the greed and corruption in the world of finance where illegal operators set up businesses and employ enthusiastic young men who want to "Get Rich Quick" selling worthless investments by hard selling to potential clients. Some may say "Boiler Room" is "Wall Street" for the modern age, and whilst it acknowledges "Wall Street" and other similar movies such as "Glengarry Glenn Ross" in various scenes it is not quite in the same league. Even so, "Boiler Room" makes for a riveting watch thanks to good performances and the general exposé of the techniques which these stock pushers use.
Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi - Saving Private Ryan) is a college dropout who runs an illegal casino from the back room of his house and aspires to greatness. Except he is a disappointment to his father and wants to gain his approval rather than his disdain. When Seth is introduced to the world of stock brokerage by an old college friend and the untold wealth that it can bring he shuts down his illegal casino and heads off to become a junior associate at J.T. Marlin. But as he moves up the ladder of wealth he starts to doubt the legitimacy of not only the stock options he hawks but also the hard sell tactics he is taught to use.
Debut writer/director Ben Younger has created in "Boiler Room" a movie which combines realism with many aspects of commercialism to construct an entertaining yet at times educational glimpse into the world of illegal stock brokerage. Having interviewed many who had themselves worked in the frenetic Boiler Rooms as well as applying for a job in a Boiler Room, Younger has created what appears to be quite an accurate representation of the illegal operations. From the pressure to perform to the attitudes of those who succeed everything feels right and this is partly why "Boiler Room" works so well, you don't feel like it's totally fictitious. In many scenes where the ethics of "Always Be Selling" and "Work Hard" are being drummed into the eager young men you get a real sense of the pressure placed on the shoulders of these wannabe millionaires.
The casting in "Boiler Room" is spot on with Giovanni Ribisi carrying the movie on his young shoulders brilliantly. Despite getting a sense that his character Seth has the desire to be a millionaire, he lacks the "screw you" attitude of his fellow compatriots. This subtle difference makes the character of Seth appealing and easier to follow as he goes on his journey of redemption. Alongside Ribisi you have the likes of Vin Diesel and Nicky Katt who play senior salesman within the firm of J.T. Marshall and amazingly are equally convincing as hot stock brokers who are happy to screw over who ever to get what they want.
The most notable performance though comes from Ben Affleck who only has a handful of scenes but is mesmerizing as he teaches the junior associates the work ethics of J.T. Marlin. It's impossible not to compare Affleck's performance to that of Alec Baldwin's in "Glengarry Glenn Ross" as it's not only a similar character but it has such impact that Affleck steals the scene when ever he appears.
But "Boiler Room" isn't perfect certain aspects of the movie, mainly those which pander to being commercially pleasing feel a little too contrived and causes the movie to lose some of the realism which it worked tirelessly to build early on. Plus the ending, which I won't go into, feels a little too messy and unresolved.
What this all boils down to is that "Boiler Room" is a surprisingly good movie which will appeal to not only those interested in "Getting Rich Quick" but those who enjoy those sorts of movies which delve into the world of finance without over complicating matters with technical jargon. It may not be "Wall Street" for a new age but it is worth a watch.
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