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Out of the Furnace

From the outset, shades of Michael Cimino’s Vietnam drama The Deer Hunter permeate Scott Cooper’s Out of the Furnace: images of Pennsylvania steel mills, a PTSD-addled young soldier forced into a world of underground violence, and, well, actual deer hunting. As Cimino did in 1978, Cooper portrays the terrible aftermath of violence and horror from the perspective of those who’ve perpetrated it. Out of the Furnace centers on two blue-collar brothers: the elder Russell (Christian Bale), an everyman who is involved in a horrific tragedy that lands him in prison; and Rodney (Casey Affleck), an Iraq War vet struggling to acclimate to civilian life who turns to bare-knuckle boxing in an attempt to make ends meet. Were the film to focus solely on the brothers, it would be a solid, if slightly dull, meditation on returning to a mundane existence after a life of extremes. Cooper’s ambitions go beyond that, and it’s not long before Rodney crosses paths with Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson), a lollipop-chomping, heroin-addicted hillbilly who runs a criminal empire amid the dilapidated trailers of the New Jersey mountains. In the lead-up to the inevitable showdown, Out of the Furnace teeters dangerously close to misery porn, with Bale’s wounded hero encountering loss and guilt around every corner. But Cooper, whose freshman film, Crazy Heart, coaxed a career-best performance out of Jeff Bridges, handles the expansion from quiet character study to mosaic thriller with panache. By focusing on the anguish of characters forced to drastic measures, Cooper spins a sophisticated tale that never resorts to melodrama.
  • Genres: Crime drama, Thriller
  • Running Time: 116 minutes
  • Release Date: Friday, January 31, 2014
  • Country: United States
  • Language: English
  • MPAA Rating: R [ Drug Content, Language, Strong Violence ]
  • Critic's Score: B+
  • Starring: Christian Bale [Russell Baze], Woody Harrelson [Curtis DeGroat], Casey Affleck [Rodney Baze Jr.], Forest Whitaker [Wesley Barnes], Willem Dafoe [John Petty], Zoe Saldana [Lena Warren], Sam Shepard [Gerald ``Red'' Baze]
  • Directed by: Scott Cooper [Director], Scott Cooper [Screenwriter], Brad Ingelsby [Screenwriter], Leonardo DiCaprio [Producer], Jennifer Killoran [Producer], Ryan Kavanaugh [Producer], Ridley Scott [Producer], Michael Costigan [Producer], Tucker Tooley [Executive Producer], Ron Burkle [Executive Producer], Jason Colbeck [Executive Producer], Robbie Brenner [Executive Producer], Brooklyn Weaver [Executive Producer], Riza Aziz [Executive Producer], Joey McFarland [Executive Producer], Christian Mercuri [Executive Producer], Joe Gatta [Executive Producer], Jeff Waxman [Executive Producer], Masanobu Takayanagi [Cinematographer], Thérèse DePrez [Production Design], Kurt & Bart [Costume Designer], David Rosenbloom [Film Editor], Dickon Hinchliffe [Original Music]
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  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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