crime, drama, movie, movie review, thriller

Flashback Review: May 28th, 2014 Movie – Boiler Room

boiler room

One thing I hate when it comes to movies is when a movie comes out and people consider it to be, and sometimes call it, the unofficial sequel to another movie that has no real bearing on the movie. I will admit that I have been guilty of that a time or two, one such instance being with this particular movie. Now I did not see Boiler Room when it was in theaters but I heard several people talking about it, with some of them referring to this as an unofficial sequel to Wall Street. That actually got my attention and made me interested in seeing this movie so when it came out on DVD, I went ahead and rented it one weekend. Now it’s time to see if it is as good of a movie as I thought it was back then.

The plot: College drop-out Seth Davis runs an unlicensed casino out of his home near Queens College, catering to the kids on campus. One night, his cousin Adam shows up with a rich associate named Greg, who flaunts the amount of money he has. The next day, Seth heads over to dinner with his family, where his father, Judge Marty Davis, begins questioning him on what he is doing. When Seth admits that he dropped out of college but has a job, his father then chastises him for running an illegal casino and what it would do to his reputation is anyone found out. After talking with Adam and Greg that night, Seth decides to take Greg up on his offer to join his brokerage firm, J.T. Martin. Seth heads to the office the next day, and wanders into the main trading room, where one of the brokers, Chris Varick, yells at him to get out. He then speaks with the secretary, who tells him that they will be doing a group interview so to just wait. Seth is brought into a conference room with all the other applicants, where Jim Young dismisses a few people before giving his speech, telling them what is expected of them and how much money they will bring in once they pass their Series 7 test and become junior brokers. Seth meets his father for lunch to try and patch things up with him but Marty tells him that he needs to get his life together and get a real job. The next day, Seth shows up for his first day at work and starts off talking with Abbie Halpert, the secretary, before heading into the training room. Once at his table, Greg begins telling him what he needs to do, calling people to try and sell them stocks, with the two rules being never to sell to women and never give them a dead lead on a client. If he gets a client that wants to buy some stock, he is to put them on hold and yell “Reco” to signal a senior broker to come over and complete the sell. Seth talks to his family about his new job and Marty is actually happy for him, though he is a little skeptical that he hasn’t heard of the firm before and still wants Seth to close down his casino. Seth heads over to Greg’s house, where he sees several of the young brokers watching Wall Street, quoting lines from it and looking at Gordon Gekko as a role model. The next day, Seth manages to land a customer and after yelling out Reco, watches as the senior brokers all rush to grab the phone. Chris manages to grab the phone and convinces the client to buy 2000 shares of the stock. After closing the deal, Seth asks about why he capped the sale and Chris explains the practice and how they manage to make money off their sales. Later that night, Seth meets Abbie for a drink at a bar while elsewhere, some of the guys go out for drinks and end up getting kicked out after getting in an argument/fight with some guys from J.P. Morgan. As Seth continues with the training and starts prepping for his Series 7 test, he ends up having to shut down his casino while noticing some odd things going on at the office. Meanwhile, the FBI has been keeping watch on J.T. Martin and one of their agents, Agent David Drew, has singled out Seth as the man they want to make contact with concerning the firm, but they haven’t figured out how just yet. When Chris helps Seth close his first sell, Greg chastises Seth for breaking protocol and closing before he has passed his Series 7 test. AS he continues trying to figure out what is going on at the firm, Seth ends up hooking up with Abbie and tells her some of his concerns but she brushes them aside. The next day, Seth sells some stock to a man named Harry at $8 a share but as he continues trying to figure out what Michael Brantley, the owner of J.T. Martin, is up to, Abbie is picked up by the FBI and questioned about her relationship with Seth. When Seth closes his 40th account, he gets into an argument with Greg about who actually gets to keep the account. Some time later, Michael tells everyone at the firm about a new product/stock that they will be selling, then takes them all out for a night on the town. The next day, Seth investigates the company they will be selling and as he meets up with Abbie afterwards, she asks him what’s bothering him, trying to get some information out of him. Seth then tells her that he figured out how Michael is making his money, by selling stock in companies that don’t exist or have already failed. Harry has checked the price on the stock and when he notices the stock price is dropping, he calls Seth and tries to sell what he bought at a loss but Seth manages to convince him to buy more stock at the lower price, and Harry invests his family’s savings on buying more shares, which causes tensions between him and his wife. The next day, Marty meets with Seth, telling him how disappointed he is in the fact that Seth works for a chop shop brokerage and is basically stealing money from people, then tells Seth that he is done with him and he is not to call him or come by the house ever again. When Harry calls him, asking for his money back, Seth tells him he can’t give him his money back and hangs up, refusing to take any further calls. Seth goes to see Marty and tells he is quitting the firm but wants his help in pulling off an IPO scheme to get some money out of the company before he leaves. Marty refuses to help him and Seth breaks down, telling him that he had closed down the casino and taken the job because he thought it was what he wanted and Marty is shocked by that revelation. Seth goes to see Abbie and she tries to talk him out of doing the scheme but he tells her he has no choice and leaves before she can say anything else. The next day, Marty calls Seth and tells him that he can’t help him with the scheme but can try to help him not get caught and invites him to dinner to discuss it. Later, Seth is talking with Abbie in her car when the FBI show up and arrest Seth and reveal that Abbie was working with them, causing Abbie to leave before she can explain anything to Seth. When he arrives at the FBI office, Seth is shocked to see his father there and Marty goes to leave when Agent Drew plays a recording of the phone call Marty made to Seth. Drew offers Seth immunity in exchange for testifying against J.T. Martin but Seth refuses unless the deal includes no mention of his father in any way or hurts his career and the FBI agree. The next day, Seth is told to go to work like normal and download his client lists onto a floppy disk to give to them. When he gets there, Seth decides to try and come up with a way to get Harry his money back, trying to make some good out of the situation. He goes to Michael to tell him that Harry is unhappy with his account and is considering leaving and Michael agrees to give him 10,000 shares of the new IPO they plan on pushing but tells Seth that Harry can’t sell it until they do. When Seth gets a call from Drew telling him it is time, he quickly copies his files and then goes to lunch, passing a note to Chris on his way out. Chris meets him on the stairwell and Seth explains that he needs him to sign a sell ticket for Harry to get his money back, telling him the FBI is raiding the place in 20 minutes. Chris is upset at first but he decides to sign the ticket, then heads back to his desk and packs his stuff, making his way out of the office before the FBI shows up for the raid. Seth walks past Abbie, ignoring her when she calls his name, and asks himself a lot of “what if’s” in his life before realizing he will need to get another job, then gets in his car and leaves as the FBI shows up and enters the building.

Boiler Room met with positive results from the critics, holding a 67% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Its ending is disappointingly tidy, but Boiler Room boasts just enough sharp writing and brisk pacing to make getting there worthwhile.” In the scene where Chris and Seth are waiting outside Greg’s house, the car is never shown to have moved or even started. This is because Ben Affleck had been sitting in the car listening to music earlier in the day and had accidentally taken the keys with him when he left and could not be located when it was time to shoot the scene. The movie was a modest success, earning $28 million off of a $7 million budget.

You know, this actually still kind of holds up over the years as a good movie. The acting was pretty good, with Giovanni Ribisi (Seth) and Vin Diesel (Chris) doing a good job in their roles. I also liked Nia Long (Abbie), Ron Rifkin (Marty) and Nicky Katt (Greg) but thought that Ben Affleck (Jim) was kind of unnecessary and was kind of put in there just to add some name value to the movie. The story was pretty interesting, basically playing up the massive “Dot Com” stocks that popped up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s and how millions of people tried to make it reach by investing in all of these start ups. The best part is that you actually do see quite a bit of character growth with Seth in the movie, especially towards the end where he does his best to protect his father from his own mistakes, even at the cost of his freedom. The drama in the movie had a very slow build up but got pretty intense at the end when Seth started trying to figure out what he should do. A good movie that is worth giving a shot.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

action, crime, drama, movie, movie review

October 1st, 2017 Movie – Smokin’ Aces

smokin' aces

Holy cow, can you believe it is already October? This year has absolutely flown by, kind of like today. My apologies for the late post with today’s movie but I had to go in to work for a couple of hours today, then there was football to watch. So, when today’s movie came out in theaters, I remember seeing the trailer and thinking it looked somewhat interesting but I never got around to seeing it as there was a lot going on in my life back then. I would eventually pick it up during a Blockbuster run, which would be the first opportunity I have to watch it so let’s see if it was worth the wait as I watch today’s movie, Smokin’ Aces.

The plot: The FBI has been systematically targeting the Mafia, with Primo Sparazza being the last vestige of power withing the Mafia. The FBI have been working on turning Buddy “Aces” Israel, a Las Vegas magician, into an informant. As Agents Donald Carruthers and Richard Messner are maintaining surveillance on Sparazza when the overhear one of Sparazza’s underbosses, Serna, is on the phone talking about how Sparazza has called in a specialist known as “The Swede” and offers him $1 million to bring back the heart of Israel. Serna decides he will go against Sparazza as part of a power grab and will hire two girls that he has dealt with before to take out Israel before hand but worries about how when word hits the streets about the bounty, more people will be going after him. The next day, Jack Dupree, a bail bondsman, is talking with two former cops, “Pistol” Pete Deeks and Hollis Elmore about Israel at the same time that Deputy Director Stanley Locke is discussing Israel’s connection to Sparazza. Locke then starts telling them of the different hitmen that will now be after Israel in order to collect the bounty; Georgia Sykes and Sharice Watters (the two women that Serna had spoke of), Pasquale “The Plague” Acosta (a legendary expert in torture), the Tremor brothers (a trio of neo-nazi speed freaks), and Lazlo Soot (a master of disguise). Dupree has been hired by the law firm that represented Israel to bring him back for his next court appearance. Elsewhere, Locke informs Carruthers and Messner that Morris Mecklen, Israel’s agent, is working with Locke on an immunity deal and he sends them to Lake Tahoe to grab Israel and make sure nothing happens to him. In Lake Tahoe, Israel is nervously waiting to hear back from Mecklen and has Sir Ivy, his head of security, get rid of the hookers he had the night before and order some new ones while Israel yells at Hugo, another bodyguard/hanger on, about semen stains that got on his coat. Elsewhere, Serna’s associate meets with Sykes and Watters to discuss how they will be getting into the hotel and up to Israel’s room while Dupree, Deeks, and Elmore meet with Ripley “Rip” Reed, the lawyer that hired Dupree to bring Israel back for his court appearance. Carruthers and Messner arrive in Lake Tahoe and wait for Locke’s signal that the deal is on and Messner spends the time reading the file on Freeman Heller, an FBI agent that had gone undercover but was killed by Sparazza. Acosta shows up at the hotel, posing as an FBI agent and asks to speak with the hotel’s head of security while Dupree is talking with Deeks and Elmore and shows them hotel staff uniforms he acquired but they are shot down by the Tremor brothers, who take the uniforms and throw the bodies in the lake. At the hotel, Soot has killed someone and works on making a latex mask to use in his disguise when Hugo shows up and Soot kills him and takes his place. Israel is on the phone with Mecklen, who tells him they need to make the deal now or else the FBI will nullify any protection agreement and Israel agrees and says he will give up Sparazza’s group as well as his own crew, unaware that Sir Ivy was listening in. Locke informs Carruthers and Messner and they head over to the hotel to ensure Israel doesn’t make a run for it and Carruthers calls ahead to try and reach security but Acosta has killed the head of security. At the lake, Elmore is shown to have survived the shooting while Carruthers and Messner receive word of Dupree’s death and learn about the hotel security uniforms that he purchased are missing and it is shown that the Tremor brothers are wearing the uniforms to infiltrate the hotel. Meanwhile, Sykes dresses up as a prostitute and plans on infiltrating the penthouse with the other hookers while Watters is set up in a hotel across the street with a sniper rifle to cover her. Carruthers heads into the hotel while Messner heads to the lake to investigate the shooting. Back in Washington, Locke is given a file concerning the Heller case and after he reads it, he is told to contact the Director and he says not to tell Carruthers or Messner. Inside the hotel, Carruthers tries to find out where the security office is and when Acosta, who is wearing a security uniform, is pointed out to him, Carruthers goes to talk to him and has him take him to the penthouse. Meanwhile, Ivy confronts Israel about the deal he made while outside the bathroom, Soot kills the other bodyguard. In the elevator, Carruthers notices Acosta’s fingers and realizes that the security guard is one of the killers and the two end up attacking and shooting each other. Meanwhile, Ivy tries to shoot Israel but Israel throws a playing card at him, cutting Ivy close to his eye and he ends up firing blindly. When security enters the penthouse, Israel has them arrest Ivy for Beanie’s death. Security shuts down the elevators but the Tremor brothers hot-wire the one they are in and have it continue towards the penthouse. In another part of the hotel, Sykes opens up the elevator and finds Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies but she ends up being trapped when Messner shows up. Sykes has Watters help her try and shoot her way out of there but she is shot by Acosta, who is then shot by Carruthers. As Messner and the other agents drag Carruthers and Acosta’s bodies out of the elevator, Sykes manages to close the doors and have it continue towards the penthouse. Meanwhile, Watters sees a hooker, who was killed in the crossfire, and thinking it is Sykes, begins firing wildly into the building until she runs out of ammo. Outside the penthouse, The Tremor brothers kill all of the security guards but Ivy manages to kill Jeeves and Lester Tremor. As Darwin moves to kill him, the elevator opens and Sykes walks out and threatens to shoot him and he quickly jumps into the elevator to escape. As Locke arrives with some more agents, they head to the penthouse to find Soot had drugged Israel and take him into custody. Messner is running up the stairs as Ivy and Sykes are heading down and they have a brief face-off but Sykes says she didn’t kill the men in the elevator and he chooses to let them go and continues upstairs. Watters sees Sykes being carried out of the building by Ivy just as some FBI agents arrive to arrest her and she ends up being killed. Soot manages to escape custody and shed his disguise, then leaves the hotel while Acosta is shown being carried out on a stretcher but he is still alive. Darwin also manages to escape but as he heads to the car park to get away, he is confronted by Elmore, who shoots him. Messner reaches the penthouse and asks to be told what is going on but Locke tells him to head back to Washington for a debriefing. Messner defies orders and heads to the hospital to confront Locke, holding him at gunpoint. Locke shows him Sparazza and Buddy and explains that they are father and son and that the Swede is actually a famed heart surgeon and through a series of unfortunate events, people misunderstood what Sparazza had intended and thus the resulting blood bath ensued. Locke says that Soot was given the contract to retrieve Israel so they could do a heart transplant for Sparazza. Messner is shocked that Locke will allow this but Locke tells him that Sparazza is actually Heller, the FBI agent Sparazza supposedly killed. Heller’s superiors thought that he had gone rogue and had him killed but Heller survived and so the FBI used reconstructive surgery to save his life. Messner is upset about the fact that Locke kept them in the dark and Locke threatens to fire him before telling him to go back to Washington. As Locke goes to talk with the doctor and some other agents, Messner enters the room that Israel and Sparazza are in and locks the door. He then sits in a chair between the two men and unplugs both of their life support machines, then places his gun and badge on the floor and watches Locke and the others try to get in as Israel and Sparazza die.

Smokin’ Aces met with mostly negative reviews from the critics, holding a 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “A violent mess of a movie, Smokin’ Aceshas some Quentin Tarantino’s style but not much of his wit or humor.” The movie was the feature film debut of Alicia Keys and Common, both of whom are Grammy winning artists. Smokin’ Aces was a mild hit at the box office, earning $57.1 million off of a $17 million budget and a direct to video prequel was released in 2010.

This was a decent movie but all of the different sub-plots kind of made it a trainwreck. The acting was good, with Ryan Reynolds (Messner), Jeremy Piven (Israel), Ray Liotta (Carruthers) all did good jobs in their roles. I also liked several of the other characters, such as Chris Pine (Darwin), Ben Affleck (Dupree) Alicia Keys (Sykes) and Common (Ivy). The story was interesting but I think the director tried to have too many characters involved in the story, which was meant to distract the FBI from the main objective against Israel but it made the movie a lot more confusing. The way they tried to involve all of the characters and use them actually seemed to waste a lot of time in the movie and if they had fewer characters, the pacing would have been better. As for the twist ending, it honestly didn’t feel like much of a shock because they seemed to set it up early on, then decided to scrap it, then go back and make it an official twist ending. The special effects were pretty good and this was actually a lot bloodier than I thought it would be, certainly bloodier than the trailers indicated. It is a good movie but it had potential to be a lot better.

Rating: 3 out of 5