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