Set in the backwaters of New York's financial world, Seth Davis, a young college dropout, is eager to prove his worth to his demanding an disapproving father. When he stumbles upon a shady brokerage firm in Long Island that's making a killing in stock market sales, he sees it as his chance to shine. He finds immediate success and instantly gets swept up in the high-stakes life of a group of young businessmen whose professional role model is "Wall Street"'s greedy Gordon Gekko. Seth soon learns that his co-workers are not only as greedy as Gekko, but just as underhanded when he realizes that his company's profit, including his own ever-expanding paycheck, derives from the selling of phony stocks to under-educated buyers.
It seems fitting that New Line Cinema/Warner Bros. are releasing 'Boiler Room' this month to coincide with the Oscar nominated Martin Scorsese film, 'The Wolf of Wall Street', which hits Blu-Ray later this month. Both films take their cues from real life stock broker, slime-ball, and former prison inmate Jordan Belfort, who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in 'Wolf' and was the inspiration for 2000's 'Boiler Room'. Belfort scammed thousands of people out of millions and millions of dollars by selling them fake stocks.
'Boiler Room', which came out in 2000, is as relevant today as it was back fourteen years ago. From the dot.com crises, to the mortage and bank failures over the last decade, there seems to be a never-ending supply of greedy businessmen who will step on anybody and destroy anyone's lives to make an extra dollar, even if it means breaking the law. Unlike 'The Wolf of Wall Street', 'Boiler Room' focuses more on the actual scam by this evil financial firm by its brokers upon their clients rather than the drugs, alcohol, and excess partying that we saw in 'Wolf of Wall-Street'.
We also see just how immature, young, and un-cultured these employees are, no matter how much money they actually make. The central theme is made clear at the start of the film, where our main character, Seth David (Giovanni Ribisi), recites some rap lyrics by the Notorious BIG about making money illegally. Throughout the entire film, other characters quote every bit of dialogue from 'Wall-Street' and 'Glengarry Glenn Ross', as if those are their bibles. But the thing is, all of these quotes they live by are all by evil people.
'Boiler Room' follows Seth, a bright young guy who dropped out of college, much to the disappointment of his father (Ron Rifkin), who is a respected federal judge and is not above screaming at his family and even hitting his son. Seth earns money by running an illegal casino for college students with access to too much of their parent's money. While it's an honest and clean business, it's still illegal. During nightly business hours, two of Seth's old friend's from back in the day, Greg and Adam (Nicky Katt and Jamie Kennedy), show up at his front door in a brand new Ferrari. The three friends catch up over a game of poker where Greg and Jamie put down a few thousand dollars as if it were only ten dollars.
The two convince Seth to join their financial firm called J.T. Marlin (similar to J.P. Morgan), where Seth will undergo rigorous training to sell stocks and eventually become his own broker. One of the senior employees who is not even thirty years old yet, Jim (Ben Affleck), tells a room full of young twenty-somethings that they will be millionaires within three years of their first day working at the firm and that the only goal in working at this firm is to become filthy rich by any means necessary.
Greg and Chris (Vin Diesel) are the senior employees and have their 'freshman' newbies learn the ropes and make sales for them over the phone, telling their trainees to say whatever they want to potential clients or victims, depending on how you look at it. "Tell them you're the vice president of the company and that J.T. Marlin is your father", one of the senior brokers says in order to get a potential client with a lot of money to spend it on a worthless stock. Seth takes to this like a duck to water, as he passes his series 7 test and becomes the fastest and best broker in the firm. Some of the older guys, who are still under thirty take him under their wing, which is where Seth begins to piece together just how illegal and evil this firm is. He even states during the movie that his casino business was the most honest thing he had going on in his life.
But what director Ben Younger shows us, is that these young men with millions of dollars are far from educated and having class. Instead we see them acting like 8th graders. They constantly get into fights at bars, become unforgivable bullies at the office, and spout out racial slurs whenever they get a chance. When Seth goes to a senior partner's house for an evening, the giant house is unfurnished with the exception of a tv and a tanning bed, as the rest of the senior executives sit on the floor around a television watching 'Wall-Street' and eating take out pizza. It's more like a run down frat house than a luxurious mansion. But Seth, being as smart as he is, begins to see the writing on the walls as he goes to the office after hours and figures out how the firm can pay triple the amount than any other firm in New York. It seems like Seth and the secretary of the firm (Nia Long) are the only ones who know what is going on, and Seth must make a difficult decision before the walls come crashing down around him.
Younger adds in a father/son angle as he shows Seth never getting that admiration or love from his father, which plays very well into this movie. Ribisi does a phenomenal job as Seth, as we see his struggle to do right from wrong. Everyone else turns in a solid performance here, even Diesel. 'Boiler Room' still holds up after fourteen years and demands to be seen.
'Boiler Room' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer presented in 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The detail is definitely sharper than the long ago DVD release, although it's not the sharpest video presentation I have seen. This movie was made over fourteen years ago on a low budget, with older film equipment, so don't expect a digital looking film here. That being said, this very nice image gives us the clarity and filmic look all at the same time without the digital clean-up glossy look. In other words, it will impress you. Closeups are well defined and reveal individual hairs on the actor's faces.
The wider shots also have some depth and detail in them as well. Nothing looks flat. The color scheme is great. While we are on the trading floor, the colors are all blue, gray, and white, leaving us a cold and bitter feeling. But anytime we are out of the office, the colors are a warm brown, red, or green, and they simply pop off screen. The black levels are deep and inky throughout with skin tones looking quite natural. There was no banding, aliasing, or any other compression issues to report, making this video presentation looking great.
This release comes with brand new lossless DTS-HD 7.1 audio mix rather than its previous 5.1 audio track. I'm not too sure what was added, as this is not exactly a big action film, but the speakers definitely get a work out from time to time here. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. It's perfectly situated on the center channel.
The sound effects and most of all, the ambient noises all sound robust, smooth, and loud. If we are in the office with every employee yelling at the top of their lungs or if we are at a crowded bar or night club with music blaring, we get the full effect of each location and surrounding nicely. The bass kicks in during the club scenes and the rears pour out sound in the office segments. You'll feel like you are smack dab in the center of the trading floor. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is wide, leaving this audio presentation with high marks.
Commentary with Director Ben Younger, Producer Jennifer Todd, Actor Giovanni Ribisi and Composer The Angel - Here we have a commentary track where some of the cast and crew were recorded separately then edited together to form this one commentary. If you have the DVD, you have heard this before. Younger and Todd discuss the actual production of the film and how they made it on such a low budget, while Ribisi discusses his research for the role, shooting some scenes, and some fun stories. Angel talks about her approach of making a score as a woman for a man-centered film. If you like the film, then you'll enjoy this commentary.
Deleted Scenes/Alternate Ending (HD, 9 mins) - There are 4 deleted scenes and an alternate ending, which you can view all together if desired. There are some funny scenes here with nudity, but the best one is the original ending, which is a very dark take on how this movie almost ended. These are worth checking out.
Theatrical Trailer (HD, 3 mins) - A trailer for the film.
Like 'The Wolf of Wall Street', 'Boiler Room' is based on the career of Jordan Belfort. This was a hip and fresh movie for its time, and it still holds up fourteen years after its release. Everyone does a killer job in their roles, and the soundtrack is amazing. The video and audio presentations are great, however I would have enjoyed some new extras. This is a definite upgrade from the DVD version. Recommended.