Boiler Room (2000) / Drama-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for strong language and some drug content
Running time: 120 min.
Cast: Giovanni Ribisi, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Vin Diesel, Ron Rifkin, Scott Caan, Jamie Kennedy
Director: Ben Younger
Screenplay: Ben Younger
Review published July 17, 2000
Quite an impressive debut for first-time writer-director Ben Younger (Prime), with a screenplay full of interesting observations and the directorial styling of a seasoned pro. That's not to say Boiler Room doesn't have its share of awkward moments of amateurism but there's definitely a lot more to like than dislike in this absorbing tale.
The plot really isn't anything fresh, and in some ways parallels The Firm for its feel on the seduction of money and power. Here we have a young man named Seth (Ribisi, The Mod Squad) who feels he is letting down his Judge father (Rifkin, The Negotiator) when he drops out of college and later starts his own illegal casino in his apartment.
When his father catches word of this, Seth gets a stern lecture and when a couple of guys from a nearby brokerage make him an offer to join them, Seth sees this as a way to finally get a legitimate job and put a smile on dear old dad's face. The brokerage promises untold millions to those who play their cards right and become senior partners, but you know what they say about things that sound too good to be true.
In addition to Younger's skills, Boiler Room sports a good set of young actors, especially Ribisi in the starring role of Seth. Probably the best performance and most crucial performance in the film, however comes from the veteran actor Ron Rifkin as the film's moral center of the judge and father.
Younger draws many allusions between the chop-shop brokerage being the "gangster" life for affluent whites, and interestingly uses hip hop for the entire soundtrack (and a great hip hop soundtrack it is). With its terrific showcase of unheard of talent and unique ideas on the state of business and corruption, Boiler Room is one of the better films of 2000. I feel sorry for the next telemarketer to call the house of anyone who watches this film.
©2000 Vince Leo