Even the stellar cast of this melancholy working-class drama can’t make you feel like you didn’t waste your time.
Set in the year 2008, Christian Bale and Casey Affleck play Russell and Rodney Baze; blue-collar brothers trying to make a life for themselves in an economically challenged Pennsylvania town, but any “change” for these two are is empty as the storefronts in their hometown.
From the beginning, life is not going so well for the brothers. Russell works at a mill rumored to be closing soon. He is also caring for their terminally-ill father. Rodney, a war veteran, is suffering from post-traumatic stress and owes a burgeoning gambling debt to small-time bookie John Petty (Willem Dafoe). When Russell, who has been secretly paying down the debt, gets sent to prison Rodney’s only way out is to turn to bare-knuckle street fighting.
While in prison, Russell loses his girlfriend Lena (Zoë Saldana), who starts dating the sheriff Wesley Barnes (Forest Whitaker). After his parole from prison, Rodney disappears while traveling with Petty to a fight in the New Jersey back hills.
The main suspect in Rodney’s disappearance is Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a drug dealer, who is seen violently attacking his date and a bystander at a drive-in theatre. But when the police are unable to catch him, Russell and his uncle (Sam Shepard) devise their own plan to catch Harlan.
Out of the Furnace is a dark and serious movie. There is no Hollywood fluff or movie magic to this gritty tale. All the performances are glowing and well-acted. Woody Harrelson’s acting is violent and scary a trait that he does a little too well. Bale’ delivers a performance that is both intense and mesmerizing.
Affleck seemed lost while Sam Shepard, Forest Whitaker, and Zoe Saldana all have little to do with the film and their characters seem like afterthoughts.
At times, the story becomes a little dull and the scenes tend to be a little drawn out. There are a few tender moments where you feel sympathy for the characters. There are no real surprises here and from early on you know that doom can only follow.
Rated R for strong violence, language and drug content
Run Time: 1 hr. 46 min.