Sunday, December 8 2013, 02:39 PM MST
Movie Review: Out of the Furnace
4 out of 5 Stars
Director: Scott Cooper
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Recommended To: Fans of well-executed dramas with strong characters and a brooding bleakness.
Synopsis: When Rodney Baze (Casey Affleck) descends into the darkness of an underground fighting circuit and doesn't resurface his brother, Russell (Christian Bale), breaks from his gentle ways to find him.
Review: From its opening scene it is quite clear that director/writer Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace is going to be a challenging and often brutal journey into the bleakness of contemporary America. Set against the rotting carcass of the American steel industry the film, co-written by Brad Ingelsby, touches on topics like the disintegrating worth of blue collar workers, the disregard for soldiers suffering from PTSD and the violence and drugs that fill the void of meaningless lives. It is cold, gritty, lawless and menacing. The heart of this darkness is Harlan DeGroat, a backwoods king played brilliantly by Woody Harrelson. He is ruthless, even when judged by a society without a moral center. Its not new territory for Harrelson, but he outdoes himself and the results are paralyzing. Bale and Affleck nearly match Harrelson's ferocity while also adding layers of emotional scarring and dismissed ambition.
Out of the Furnace is an unsettling experience. It begins with a promise of violence, both psychological and physical, and delivers in spades. Yet, somewhere beneath its visceral skin, exists themes of love and devotion, which is what makes the movie all the more interesting.
-Ryan Michael Painter