- Starring: Christian Bale (Fighter), Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone), Woody Harrelson (No Country for Old Men) and more.
- Directed by: Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart)
- Synopsis: “From Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart, comes a gripping and gritty drama about family, fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russell’s brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so—with nothing left to lose—Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. The impressive cast of Christian Bale and Casey Affleck are rounded out by Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe.”
- Rating: Rated R for language, strong violence and drug content.
- Must-Watch Trailer:
Out of the Furnace is a dark drama loaded with a cast and story that does almost nothing except burn up any previous great expectations. With a cast that includes the likes of Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepherd and more, this drama sadly disappoints. Following the story of a brother who takes matters into his own hands after the disappearance of his directionless younger brother leads him into a dark criminal underworld in search of justice, Out of the Furnace fails to fire on all cylinders and has fittingly earned its cold reception in theaters.
With a storyline that appears similar to other revenge-type films (i.e. Drive, Kill Bill, Man on Fire, etc), Out of the Furnace is far from it and focuses more on character buildup than the story. Acceptable in its own regard, the focus of the characters is still minimal in comparison to the time spent in contemplative cinematography seemingly misplaced for the type of story expected.
Performances of merit by Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson alone, Director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart) wastes the rest of the talent in the film in roles made no better by the actors playing them. It’s a shame really, considering the talent recruited for the film (not only in casting but also in its production crew that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott). So many of the actors end up doing NOTHING (I’m pointing at you Zoe, Forest, Sam, Willem…and I might point at you, Casey, if I could believe in you in any role I have seen you in up to this point.) There are several reviews praising, or at least acknowledging, the work of the actors, but my agreement with them go only as far as Bale and Harrelson. A frustrating aspect of Out of the Furnace along with how the story is told.
Not only do the performances lack, but so does the pacing. Out of the Furnace burns up time by barely moving the story most times and makes the experience much more drawn out than necessary. Its slow pace burns mixed with a little bit of gritty action will remind some viewers of the film Killing Them Softly that also drudges along and by the end of it makes no one care anymore for the characters than at the beginning…if at all.
Sadly, Out of the Furnace fizzles and is more cold than hot for more reasons than one. This story of a man in an inescapable fight against so many odds is both disappointing and frustrating. Vengeance and vigilantism have been featured in better movies with better storytelling, despite the cast. My advice: If you are going to the movies, stay Out of the Furnace and go Catching Fire instead.
My Score: 1.5 out of 5 stars for Out of the Furnace
(Remember, to read this review of mine and over 250 more, check out THE ARCHIVE of movies I have reviewed anytime. Know before you go…or rent…or buy!)
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer
up next: Trailer Time Thursday!