At its core, Boiler Room is the story of Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), a 19-year-old failure who operates an unlicensed casino in his own apartment. He has a horrible relationship with his father (Ron Rifkin), a federal judge in New York City, bad judgment and bad choice in friends. One night, however, he gets an opportunity to turn his life around. Into his little casino stumbles a stock broker from the brokerage firm of J.T. Marlin, and this guy is flashing cash like you wouldn’t believe. He tells Seth to come work for J.T. Marlin. It begins.
This is a surprisingly strong film. It suffers from the occasional amateur mistake, like an obnoxious soundtrack early in the film and some over-the-top characterizations here and there, but all told this film produces both a fascinating tale and an emotionally satisfying film. Here’s why this film works.
Seth himself is very complex. He seems like a good guy and you’re sure he’ll do the right thing. But then he’s also not that smart and it takes him awhile to realize that the things going on around him are wrong. But by the time he realizes this and he wants out, he also finds that the respectability he’s gained from his father for having become a successful broker makes quitting impossible for him. But then he loses that and he needs to find a solution to his problems. But his innate stupidity and poor judgment arise again and he flails about as he simply can’t figure out a good way out.
Speaking of Diesel, he first got spotted in Saving Private Ryan in 1998. He first became famous in 2001 when both Pitch Black and The Fast and the Furious hit theaters. He made this film at the same time he made Pitch Black in 2000 before he hit it big, and he already shows a tremendous amount of acting skill and charisma in the film. Seeing his early performance here alone is worth catching the film.
I highly recommend this film. It’s not the slickest film nor does it have the highest production values. This won’t be confused with either Glengarry Glenn Ross or Wall Street, but it compares favorably in my opinion. It’s a strong film that immerses you in a very real world you will not see anywhere else and it takes you on a wild ride that is worth taking. It has complex characters, each packed with tragic flaws, and a storyline that will more than hold your attention.