Boiler Room

Boiler Room follows Giovanni Ribisi’s Seth Davis as he lands a job at a suburban investment firm and begins making real money, with the narrative subsequently detailing the character’s growing realization that his workplace is cutting more than a few legal corners. First-time filmmaker Ben Younger does a nice job of initially establishing the central character and the raucous office in which much of the story transpires, although it is clear, to a more and more distressing extent, that Ribisi is either unwilling or unable to transform his ambitious protagonist into a wholeheartedly compelling and sympathetic figure (which does diminish the impact of the movie’s third-act developments, to be sure). And although Younger has peppered the proceedings with several admittedly engrossing sequences (eg Ben Affleck rallies the firm’s newcomers with a brutally honest yet oddly rousing speech), Boiler Room, saddled with an aggressively overlong running time, doesn’t manage to gain any real sense of momentum as it progresses and it doesn’t help, either, that the film suffers from an often eye-rollingly less-than-subtle sensibility (with this most keenly reflected in the ongoing emphasis on one of Seth’s more overtly screwed clients). The end result is a sporadically intriguing yet mostly tiresome drama that is rarely able to make the trenchant impact Younger is obviously going for, which is too bad, certainly, given that the movie does, at the very least, possess one heck of a supporting cast. (Folks like Nicky Katt, Ron Rifkin, Tom Everett Scott, and even Vin Diesel turn in solid work within the film’s periphery.)

** out of ****

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