Wednesday, June 1, 2011
Movie Review: Boiler Room (2000)
Further proof that there is a sucker born every minute, Boiler Room takes a look at the modern-day snake-oil salesmen taking advantage of the suckers by peddling worthless stocks with empty promises of future riches.
J.T. Marlin's phone-based business is sweet-talking naive investors into pouring their life's savings into useless stocks, and Seth becomes quite good at it. He also starts a relationship with the firm's secretary Abbie (Nia Long), who has just dumped Greg. But no matter what he does, Seth cannot get his father's approval, and eventually he wises up to the damage his salesmanship is causing, and the illegalities of the firm's business.
Boiler Room's premise is painted in vivid colours that dissolve under the mildest scrutiny. Can Seth really be the only person in the United States curious enough to notice the shuttered and abandoned offices of a supposed high-tech medical research company developing the next miracle drug? A scene that features a regulator shredding documents at night is underlined as proof of wrong-doing; a large but empty office filled with banks of phones on the floor is also supposed to hold evil intent. Neither the significance of the documents being shredded nor the purpose of the lonely phones are ever convincingly explained, and once again, Seth is the only one noticing.
Ben Affleck has a grand total of three scenes, as J.T. Marlin's in-house recruiter and morale booster. It looks like a good paycheck for about a day's worth of work, but Affleck does bring a testosterone-injected intensity to his cheesy rabble-rousing speeches.
Any reminder of man's ability to exploit the combination of greed and gullibility as a shortcut to riches is useful, but Boiler Room otherwise brings little that is new to an old morality tale.
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