Wearing its influences like a badge of honor while setting the stage for future endeavors, Ben Younger’s smashing directorial debut Boiler Room generated some serious heat for its all-star cast and incendiary storytelling. Released to excellent reviews in 2000 and announcing a dynamic new storytelling voice from its debuting director, this propulsive drama races through the shady inner-workings of a questionable NYC brokerage firm, operating outside of the lines of all the big players in the crowded market. Starring Giovanni Ribisi, in one of his best performances, as an underachiever running an unlicensed gambling operation out of his apartment who gets sucked into this particular brand of high-stakes, high-reward con-artistry, the film has a ridiculous supporting cast which includes Tom Everett Scott, Vin Diesel, Nicky Kat, Jamie Kennedy, Nia Long, Scott Caan, Ben Affleck, and Ron Rifkin. Younger’s sharp script balanced solid drama with raucous humor in good measure, while the exceedingly masculine cast clearly forged a major on-screen bond as everyone feels perfectly in synch.
Affleck was fantastic in only a few scenes, taking on a role that was clearly molded after Alec Baldwin’s fiery turn as a corporate motivator in James Foley’s adaptation of David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glenn Ross. And Rifkin, one of the great and unsung character actors of the 90’s, was extremely memorable as Ribisi’s disapproving father, a man working as a high ranking Federal judge who catches wind of what his son is up too, with explosively dramatic results. The scenes between Ribisi and Rifkin are absolutely fantastic, and ground the film with a serious sense of morality, while there’s a definite thrill to being privy to all of the ways that these sharks in business suits cut their way through ethically questionable waters. Enrique Chediak’s lively cinematography gave the film a terrific vibe; he’d go on to shoot such films as 28 Weeks Later, 127 Hours, and Deepwater Horizon. The tight editing by Chris Peppe kept the pace brisk while never moving too fast, as lots of information is hurled at the viewer. After Boiler Room, Younger released the very underrated dramedy Prime, with Meryl Steep and Uma Thurman, and has the hotly anticipated Bleed for This, with Miles Teller, set for release this fall.