Director: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Wood Harrelson, Casey Affleck and Forrest Whitaker.
Out of the Furnace...wow! What a cast we have here. Director Scott Cooper has managed to gather a collection of fine actors who try so hard to make this movie stand out. It does, kind of.
There is a big gap between Crazy Heart (2009) and even further back with Austin Powers: The spy who shagged me (1999). Jeff Bridges picked up an award for best actor in Cooper's Crazy Heart respectively.
Out of the Furnace is a bleak outlook on the economic crises and its impact on every character surrounding the small town of Rust Belt, Pennsylvania. Unlike his brother, Russell (Christian Bale) is proud to work in the old mill which seems like the only place willing to feed the majority of blue-collar workers. Russell is struggling to cope after losing his missus (Zoe Saldana) to Wesley Barnes (Forrest Whitaker) following a drunken car crash. Fresh out of jail, Russell is desperate to put the past behind him. On the other hand younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) is haunted by his servings in the Iraq war. Desperate for money, Rodney takes up bare-knuckle boxing through local gambler and money launderer John Petty (William Defoe).
When Russell finds out about Rodney's blood sport antics he fails in a bid to make him see straight. From there we follow Rodeny down a dark road which leads him to Satan himself Harlan Degroat (Wood Harrelson). Harlan offers Rodney some fights, however Rodney is unaware of the potential outcome of dealing with such an individual.
It is Prisoners all over again as Wesley informs Russell of Rodney's disappearance leading to a build of anger and worry. Destined to take the law into his own hands, Russell struggles to cope with the possibility of never seeing his brother again.
Out of the Furnace is smothered with different characters offering various angles to a film that struggles to hold down an official plot. The scenes are wonderfully shot with the old mill signifying the dirty setting of a troubled town. Far from warm, the woods are the haunting surroundings to an environment struggling to stay on its feet. It is the habitants that live amongst the existing villains of the town who are finding it hard to pack up an live a better life else where. And that is where Scott Cooper's movie tries reeling you in to find sympathy in the movie's protagonist Russell (Bale) when really there is none.
Out of the Furnace is a negative movie based on negative characters caught up in a time of financial crises. The only female in the movie is supposed to be relevant in the life of Russell but adds nothing to the movie. The movie is dominated by males, with Forrest Whitaker, Affleck, Dafoe all performing out of there skin. And that is the small problem with this movie; the method acting is so outstanding that it brushes aside any room for a plot resulting in an underwhelming story. Sure, Bale was ecstatic as always along with Harrelson who is terrifying and unforgettable. It almost suffers from the "villain disease",when a cast of excellences are out-shined by the antagonist; Lawless, Gangster Squad, it happens and this just happened. The scenes involving Harrelson are the most memorable with a climax that is merely satisfying but to look back at the movie you understand why Out of the Furnace was not one of the most talked about movies. It came in under the radar following the fantastic American Hustle which is probably a bit unfortunate for Scott Cooper but these things happen.
Out of the Furnace is not a bad movie (as some critics have labelled it) but you expect the director to create something more extravagant with the actors at hand.
Overall: It is watchable and enjoyable in parts. Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson are the heart and soul of a movie with no obvious plot - but when there is one (relating Casey Affleck) it's over before you know it.