While watching "Boiler Room", I was reminded of "Rounders", which came out a couple of years ago. Both movies take a very authentic and extremely interesting look into the culture that they choose to explore. While "Rounders" took a look at the culture of poker players, "Boiler Room" leads the audience into what it's like on Wall Street. Both films start off the same though. Introducing us to the main character, Seth(Giovanni Ribisi), a 19 year old who's running a casino out of his house. Once his judge father learns about what's going on, he's forced to get a different job. That's when Wall Street comes calling in the form of a couple of businessmen who're impressed with his business skills.
The firm is JT Marlen, and everything about director Ben Younger's film feels realistic and natural. The camera moves around the room while huge numbers of employees are making their phone pitches to possible clients; all of them are selling like their lives depended on it. The interview process that Seth goes through guarantees that these new employees will make their first million in their first couple years. The first half of this film does really drop the audience right into this world, and for the time being, the movie becomes interesting and energized due to the sheer intensity on display.
Then, of course, there are things going on underneath the surface of the firm. Seth sees things that he shouldn't, and things go down further from there. Thankfully, "Boiler Room" never turns into a stereotypical thriller; things keep going very well up until the end due to the strong performances from Ben Affleck, Ribisi, Nia Long, Vin Diesel and Nicky Katt. They're helped along by Younger's script, which provides great dialogue nine times out of ten. Yes, the film is a little too much "Glengarry Glen Ross" at times, but it takes on that and makes the elements fresh. Here again, it's all about the sale and it's all about never taking "no" as an answer.
VIDEO: New Line has a record of providing excellent looking discs ever since their first effort a few years back - although much of "Boiler Room" looks excellent, there are some flaws that are a little distracting at times. Sharpness is excellent and consistent; day and night sequences all look clear and well-defined. Detail is excellent, as well. Much of the scenes at the firm contain very subdued colors; grey, white, blue, black and some minor other colors - but these scenes look nicely rendered and solid here. Other sequences display a more wide range of colors and translate similarly well on this disc. Fleshtones are usually natural, as well. Sometimes the film looks a little dark, but maybe it was that way in the theaters - I didn't see the film during its theatrical run.
As for the flaws I mentioned before, they're minor but noticable. There's a bit of dirt and marks on the print used, but this is only an infrequent distraction and nothing that will really take away too much from the experience of watching the film. No pixelation, no shimmering. All in all a great effort but not an outstanding one. The layer change is at 1:15:54.
SOUND: Much of "Boiler Room" is dialogue-driven, but a few pieces of the puzzle make it more interesting. Much of the film's score uses rap music (although not to quite as good effect as "Office Space" did), and it sounds quite solid here, with a nice, strong beat. Surrounds are used here and there to add some background sound or to offer the score. Their use is sometimes noticable, but mainly subtle and not terribly effective. Dialogue could be a little cleaner and clearer, but I found the majority of it understandable.
MENUS:: Nothing too much out of the ordinary; offering film-themed menus with the score or "film-themed noise"(I guess you could call it that) in the background, and animation when the viewer makes a choice to go to a sub-menu.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Ben Younger, Producer Jennifer Todd, Actor Giovanni Ribisi and composer The Angel. Ribisi seems to have been recorded separately, and the team of Younger/Todd seems to do most of the talking, chatting back and forth about the making of the movie and their inspirations for the film. Younger seems fairly laid back while Todd remains the more energetic of the two.
The commentary is generally good and remains informative with few gaps in the discussion. Ribisi contributes a lot of information about the character and how he chose to play the role, as well as his thoughts on the themes of the movie. As for the duo of Younger and Todd, I liked the way that they integrated discussions of filmmaking in general into their commentary, chatting about the tasks that have to be done during the production as well as comparing it to what they had to do on this film.
Technical discussion also comes up, as Younger discusses tales from the production as well as what it was like to create the look and feel of the film. The commentary as a whole creates a nice balance between the usual discussion of the production as well as the casting and a handful of interesting stories from the set. Although there are a few minor pauses, they certainly aren't distracting. All in all, this is a very interesting and entertaining track.
Deleted Scenes: 4 deleted scenes plus the film's alternate ending, these are pretty interesting - it would have been very nice to have had commentary from the director included with these sequences, though.
Trailer: The film's theatrical trailer, presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and letterboxed at 1.85:1.
Isolated Score: The film's isolated score, with commentary by composer the Angel. Dolby Digital 5.1.
DVD-ROM: Script-To-Screen(read the screenplay); quiz, web links.
Cast and Crew: Cast and crew filmographies for just about everyone in the cast and crew, it seems. Inside Nia Long's bio you'll find trailers for "Love Jones" and "Friday".
Final Thoughts: Although it doesn't quite hold up till the end, much of "Boiler Room" is excellent, offering great dialogue and performances. New Line's DVD is another one of their great efforts, and is definitely recommended.