Out of the Furnace is a compelling story of two loving brothers being separated by bad life choices. A great tale with an amazing cast that often finds itself lost with slow, dragging moments and poor dialogue.
Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace follows two brothers, Russell Baze (Christian Bale), a steel mill worker, and Rodney Baze, Jr. (Casey Affleck), an Iraqi War soldier, as they try living their lives in Northeast America during the Great Recession. As they become more apart the brothers meet an evil Appalachian drug dealer (Woody Harrelson) who's motives are to make money and terrorize. This is a complex story focusing on the decisions of human beings. Every decision every character makes leads to some bad consequence. Putting it lightly, this is not a happy film. From the first shot of the film to the last shot, everything is dark and gritty. The cinematography is well done portraying the grit of the back country towns and the darkness that falls on those who just want to live their life peacefully. This is where the story fails to pull any heartstrings and bring up smiles. Out of the Furnace is the story of Baze's luck just washing down the drain.
The film excels in cast with every actor shining, most notably Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson. When there's a scene with more than one actor it seems that everyone's trying to upstage one another, which leads to great performances. Harrelson plays his part so magnificently that you forget how one dimensional his character really is. Other actors are in this film, but this is Christian Bale's movie. I wouldn't be surprised if he was nominated for Best Actor. The screenplay gnaws at Baze's psyche in every scene, eventually pushing him to make one mistake after another. It also draws back on how humans really act out their lives. Baze wants more out of his life for him and his brother, but never does anything about it. Christian Bale seems to be the perfect fit for this character. Through every character action and every spoken word, Bale never acts like Russell Baze, he is Baze. This goes to credit that Scott Cooper only wanted Christian Bale for the role and Bale knocks it out of the park.
Sometimes the story falls flat and drags on for long periods of time, especially in the second act when Baze is doing his own investigating into the crimes of Harrelson's character. In these moments, the dialogue turns stale and your mind wanders off. At other times the actors can't do anything to save a scene and you're just watching dreary faces stare at one another. What makes this movie worth the watch are the few moments of intensity and build up. When the action starts, you're at the edge of your seat watching what seems to be a great film, until the moment's over. The ending also falls flat, with the audience believing that Baze might change, but he is drowned in sorrow that it is sadly a plausible ending for a morbid story.
With a great cast and intense moments, the story can't hide a slow middle, drab dialogue, and a flat villain. Out of the Furnace does well portraying the heart and mind of a human being, but the film loses all hope with its overshadowing darkness and bittersweet ending.
Good Qualities: The cast does an amazing job. The intense action sequences make this film. Christian Bale nom!
Bad Qualities: Harrelson's villain is one-dimensional, the second act drags on, the dialogue falls flat, and the film is overall too dark to handle.