When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement doesn’t follow through fast enough, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice.
Directed: Scott Cooper
What we think: Cast for so long in the trademarked cowl of Batman and posing around Gotham City as the slightly disturbed and flamboyant billionaire Bruce Wayne, Christian Bale is back deep in his gritty acting roots.
Bale plays Pennsylvania steel mill worker Russell, a man living a simplistic hard working way of life. His brother on the other hand, Rodney (Affleck), is back from a tour in Iraq, visibly scared and not in the least bit interested in anymore manual labour.
Inciting that the country owes him a something for his sacrifice, he gets into debt gambling and desperate for cash to pay off his short fall he takes bare knuckle fist fights organised by loan shark friend John Petty Willem Dafoe.
Things move from bad to worse in a surprise addition to the plot, which sees Russell endure some time behind bars and in the process loses his sick father as well as seeing girlfriend Lena (Saldana) fall into the arms of local cop Forest Whitaker.
When he steps outside of the prison walls for the first time he has yet another problem facing him, in the form of local drug king pin and all round nasty, Harlan DeGroat brilliantly played by Woody Harrelson.
DeGroat is not one to be crossed as even the local police keep their distance, but Rodney heads straight into the lions den when he accepts a fight and then is propositioned to take a dive during it, something that he is not willing to do.
The relationship between the brothers is enthralling and totally believable, both Bale and Affleck give controlled and sharp performances, feeding off each other as the tension between them rises.
The film attempts to broach the subject of the working classes, while at the same time portraying the life of the retired marine who has come back home full of nightmares, and is left forgotten only to crumble into himself.
While it would be easy to blame the higher powers, for the most part its self pity for some and a desire to succeed for others following the lines of justice that will prevail throughout, as Russell heads back to the mill he knows will close and turf him onto the dusty streets.
It’s a strong cast, with Harrelson’s villain commanding the screen with gusto while the likes of Saldana, Defoe and Sam Shepard play mere bit parts which is a shame, but with this much talent on show not everyone can feature front and centre.
The film’s setting is a perfect post-industrial stomping ground for battles both in the illegal ring and out of it, while a moody soundtrack is a perfect accompaniment to the narrative that is both moving and rough around the edges.
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Visit the IMDB page for Out of the Furnace
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