Out of the Furnace Movie Review
How is it that a film that has outstanding acting, an interesting story and a great balance of characters somehow fails to grab its audience? I have seen Out of the Furnace and I’m still wondering the same thing.
Out of the Furnace is the story of a small town and the events that surround the characters in it. It stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard and Willem Dafoe. Its director Scott Cooper broke into the Hollywood limelight in 2009 with his film Crazy Heart starring Jeff Bridges. Like Crazy Heart “Out of the Furnace” is pushed to its boundaries thanks to its outstanding performances.
In Out of the Furnace we follow two brothers Rodney (Affleck) and Russell (Bale) as they live their lives in Pittsburgh. The film is meant to be looked at as a symbol that the once great American dream is more of a nightmare and working hard for a living does not pay off the way it once did. The film focuses on the fact that working hard for a living and being a good person in life sometimes just does not amount to anything more than surviving in society.
Russell is the older of the two brothers and he has followed in the footsteps of his father. He works for a living in a steel mill and is just making ends meet in order to survive. He lives with his girlfriend (Saldana) and is very content with his life and believes that sometimes this is what life is and you have to learn to be happy with it. As for his younger brother Rodney he is a military man who has been Stop-Loss one too many times. This has taken a toll on Rodney and he does not seem to have much care for anything in life and believes that working at the steel mill is not an option for him.
To pass time between his stop-loss Rodney gets involved with some underground fighting. He feels that if he fights his way to the top he can make enough money to make it out of this small town. He eventually talks his way into bigger matches that are run by a family of New Jersey drug-dealers. The leader of the underground organization is Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson), an out of control drug addict who Rodney gets mixed up with.
One thing that must be noted here is that Harlan is a character that makes you uncomfortable every time he is on the screen. Woody Harrelson delivers one of the best performances of his career as this hillbilly from hell. Right from the opening scene we see the kind of psychotic human being Harlan is; as he beats a man to near death for just confronting him on a domestic issue. Cooper clearly wants us to see that this character will be a key focal point to the story.
The movie feels like 2 movies wrapped into one. It’s a character study as well as a suspense thriller, but the two never blend well together to make an outstanding film. Its point feels somewhat forced at times because the director seems to want us to feel for its characters by over playing the fact that these are good people who have been dealt a bad hand. He adds scenes that seem somewhat unnecessary and seems to rush moments that could have been fully engaging if given the proper treatment.
It’s hard to actually justify my score for this film because of the fact that it has some technical flaws that could have been easily corrected in the editing room. The true reason to see this film is for its three main actors Bale, Harrelson and Affleck who all deliver some outstanding work. None of the actors will be nominated for anything, but they all give performances that warrant a watch. The films plot is engaging enough to keep you in entertained for its entirety, but just never really does anything that we have not seen before. Some of the actors seem to be underused but still give us great performances in their time on screen. The film is must watch for those who want to see acting at is best by the entire ensemble, but be warned that the film may turn most viewers away due to its slow pace and mediocre story.