REVIEW: OUT OF THE FURNACE
SYNOPSIS: From Scott Cooper, the critically-acclaimed writer and director of Crazy Heart, comes a gripping and gritty drama about family, fate, circumstance, and justice. Russell Baze (Christian Bale) has a rough life: he works a dead-end blue collar job at the local steel mill by day, and cares for his terminally ill father by night. When Russellís brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) returns home from serving time in Iraq, he gets lured into one of the most ruthless crime rings in the Northeast and mysteriously disappears. The police fail to crack the case, so - with nothing left to lose - Russell takes matters into his own hands, putting his life on the line to seek justice for his brother. The impressive cast of Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson are rounded out by Casey Affleck, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and Sam Shepard.
REVIEW: Since his 2009 Oscar winning feature debut, Crazy Heart, director Scott Cooper returns with this latest effort, Out of the Furnace. It seems as though with this script he challenges us with its man vs. fate inevitability and gives us very familiar characters in very familiar scenarios via subtlety effective bits and pieces rather than charming us with dramatic flair or hysterical melodrama. In other words, this film is certainly not out to surprise or shock audiences. It simply presents interesting characters, in probable scenarios and their inevitable outcomes. Nevertheless, as predictable as this flickís outcome may be (which oddly enough feels like watching a slow motion train wreck, but in an interesting way), Cooperís skillful execution, keeps audiences at an emotional distance that can only be described as uncomfortable with a need to see the plot through to the end. Itís a movie thatís hard to look away from even in its slow execution style of filming; hence, my analogy of watching a slow motion train wreck.
While several of the cast members donít quite make the splash one would expect, particularly Sam Shepard (Safe House, 2012) and Forest Whitaker (The Butler, 2013), the rest of the all-star cast swiftly makes up for it. Christian Bale, Casey Affleck (Tower Heist, 2011), Woody Harrelson and Zoe Saldana, are absolutely magnificent in their respective roles. Most notable is Bale presenting us with some of his finest work to date. He has got to be recognized for bringing such a broken character to life in this film with his over and above stellar performance. His presentation of the lead character simply feels realistic in every sense of the word. He just executed flawlessly, from beginning to end. And not to go unnoticed, is a strong albeit volatile supporting performance from Affleck. He too is bringing his A-game, with one of the best performances of his career, in my humble opinion.
Thereís a definite emotional energy threading its way through this latest Scott Cooper effort, like a repetitive nightmare that wonít go away. It is passionate in the sense of ďfamily first,Ē it is perplexing whilst, being predictable and it is most certainly captivating with its performances. Itís not a movie to watch for new interesting and innovative ideas; itís a movie to watch great actors executing a familiar story immaculately. It is certainly worth the visit to the theaters, but could also be a great date night DVD. I for one believe that four out of five stars is certainly well deserved here.
By Movi-Man Stan
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