Boiler Room (film)

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Boiler Room
Boiler room ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ben Younger
Produced by Jennifer Todd
Suzanne Todd
Written by Ben Younger
Music by The Angel
Cinematography Enrique Chediak
Editing by Chris Peppe
Studio Team Todd
Distributed by New Line Cinema
Release dates
  • February 18, 2000 (2000-02-18)
Running time 120 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[2]
Box office $28,780,255[2]

Boiler Room is a 2000 American crime drama film written and directed by Ben Younger, and starring Giovanni Ribisi, Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Ben Affleck, Nicky Katt, Scott Caan, Tom Everett Scott, Ron Rifkin, and Jamie Kennedy.

The film is based on interviews the writer conducted with numerous brokers over a two-year period, and is inspired by the firm Stratton Oakmont and the life of Jordan Belfort, whose autobiography was later adapted into Martin Scorsese's 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Belfort.


In 1999, Seth Davis (Ribisi) is a 19-year-old dropout from Queens College who runs an unlicensed casino in his apartment. Although he earns a successful living in his line of work, he is constantly berated by his father, Marty (Rifkin), a New York City federal judge. One night, his old friend Adam (Kennedy) stops by the casino to play blackjack, bringing a wealthy associate named Greg Weinstein (Katt) along with him. Although Seth is content with his earnings through the casino, he becomes increasingly unnerved due to Marty's disapproval and the risk factor of having his business shut down along with his arrest. On another night, Greg recruits Seth to join J.T. Marlin, a brokerage firm based somewhere off the Long Island Expressway, "a good hour away from Wall Street" as Seth describes it. He is impressed with not only the chance to earn a legal living, but to make millions of dollars.

Arriving at J.T. Marlin, Seth attends a group interview and learns from Jim Young (Affleck), one of the co-founders of the firm, what is expected of his work and also how he can become a millionaire. The firm's techniques of selling are through cold calling investors to sell stock, and Seth joins as a stockbroker trainee, having to close 40 accounts and pass a Series 7 Exam in order to begin working independently. He finds success in his new job as he proceeds to do very well in his work, as well as impressing his parents, becoming part of a crowd of successful senior brokers, and embarking on a romance with Abbie Halpert (Long), a secretary and ex-girlfriend of Greg. Seth also experiences trials and tribulations, including altercations and arguments he experiences with Greg and the decision to close down his casino.

On the other hand, J.T. Marlin has been under investigation by the FBI, revealing the firm's illegitimacy. The company is a chop stock brokerage firm that runs a "pump and dump", using its brokers to create artificial demand in the stock of expired or fake companies. When the firm is done pumping the stock, the investors then have no one to sell their shares to in the market, and the price of the stock plummets. The federal agents decide to pursue Seth, figuring he is a good target due to his intelligence, and his potential of not being too loyal to the firm due to his short tenure.

Seth passes his Series 7 Exam and becomes a senior broker. He then contacts Harry Reynard (Nichols), the purchasing manager of a gourmet foods company, different and less privileged than the other "whales" who are common prey for the firm. Although Harry emphasizes that he and his family are being frugal at the moment in order to buy a house, Seth falsely promises a good investment for him that can very well turn out to be highly profitable. After selling him 100 shares at 8 dollars each, Harry calls back to ask why the stock has done so poorly. Seth sells him even more worthless shares, persuading him the outcome will not be consequential. This creates an excruciating financial situation for Harry and his family, causing him to lose the house he had wanted to purchase as well as being abandoned by his family.

Unnerved by the decision to scam Harry, Seth comes to terms with knowing that J.T. Marlin isn't as legitimate as it was made out to be before. Marty then disowns him, blasting him for his dishonest work of stealing and destroying other peoples' lives. Despite this, Seth shows up at his father's office and emotionally explains that he shut down his casino and went along with a highly criminal line of work that he thought was legal in order to gain his family's approval. He then requests that his father helps him on an IPO scheme in order to rob the firm of their money and bring them down. Although Marty initially refuses due to the risk of losing his judgeship, he calls Seth the next day, reconciling with him and offering an involvement in the scheme.

Seth is eventually arrested by the FBI for the violation of 26 SEC and NASD regulations, and is brought into their custody along with his father, as the bureau had discovered their IPO scheme due to a tape-recorded phone conversation. The FBI offer him federal immunity if he agrees to testify against J.T. Marlin once all the suspects are brought into court, but can also involve Marty due to evidence of their intentions for an illegal activity. Seth asserts that he will testify against the firm and provide strong evidence of their illegal practices only if his father is released. He and the agents come to an agreement on this, with Seth being kept overnight only to return to work the next day and make copies of investment files onto a floppy disk in order to use as evidence. After that, it is implied that he will be free to go as the FBI will proceed to raid the building and prosecute everybody else.

Seth returns to work the next day and goes along with the FBI's instruction. Before leaving, Seth attempts to redeem himself for his actions and attempts to get Harry's money back. He lies to Michael Brantley (Scott), the company founder, by explaining that the firm can lose a lot of money by refusing to continue to do business with Harry Reynard, who Seth makes out to be an important and profitable prospect at a make-or-break turning point. Brantley agrees to proceed based on Seth's explanation, offering him shares of the next IPO, however, with a caveat that he cannot sell the shares until the firm has sold off their shares. In order to sell the shares behind Michael's back, Seth needs a ticket sale signed by a senior broker, something that his direct supervisor, Greg, has explicitly said that he would never do. He seeks a signing from Chris Varick (Diesel), explaining that he may well "do one thing right" in helping a severely hit investor make his money back, now that the firm will be raided and, soon enough, there will be no future in continuing business at J.T. Marlin. Chris reluctantly agrees to do so, and proceeds to escape the building in an attempt to flee federal enforcement. Seth walks out to his car, deciding what to do with his life now that his ties with J.T. Marlin are finished. As he departs in his car, several FBI cars, buses, and tow trucks enter the parking lot, with agents storming out ready to raid the building.

Alternate ending[edit]

After Harry's family leaves him, he goes to the garage and gets a .45 semi-automatic pistol. At his office, Seth backs up his hard drive and leaves. As Seth is walking out to his car, he bumps into Harry who's on his way in. Harry's briefcase gets dumped, including the handgun's storage case. Seth helps Harry and they part ways. Seth contemplates whether Harry even knows what he looks like.



Boiler Room received generally positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 67% based on reviews from 98 critics; the site's consensus is: "Its ending is disappointingly tidy, but Boiler Room boasts just enough sharp writing and brisk pacing to make getting there worthwhile."[3]

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