Out of the Furnace stars Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldane, Willem Dafoe, Sam Shephard, Forrest Whitaker, and Woody Harrelson. It is set in the steel mills of Pennsylvania and the hills of New Jersey. As the film opens you find the Russell Baze (Christian Bale) working in the steel mills only to learn that his younger brother Rodney (Affleck) has bet money on a losing horse having borrowed it from a bar owner Petty (Dafoe). Russell meets Petty promising to pay off the debt. He leaves the bar intoxicated and kills a family with his car which lands him in prison. While in prison his girl friend leaves him for the town sheriff (Saldane and Whittaker respectfully).
His brother has been bare knuckle fighting for Petty his rage fueled by his experiences from the war in Iraq causes him to beat his opponents senseless. This displeases Petty as he wanted Rodney to lose and recoup the money from Rodney’s debt.
When Russell gets out of prison he finds out what his brother has been doing and tells him to quit and come to work at the mills. Rodney goes to fight one more time for Petty where they meet DeGroot (Harrelson) and his fighter. Again Petty tells Rodney to lose the fight but he can’t and knocks the other fighter down but after pleas from Petty he helps the other fighter up and lets the fighter pummel his face. This doesn’t satisfy DeGroot and he kills both Petty and Rodney.
Russell goes looking for his brother and when he finds out that DeGroot has killed him, goes looking for DeGroot only to be blocked by the sheriff who tells Russell that DeGroot is too powerful but that doesn’t deter Russell.
This is a dark film and Christian Bale has once again shed any weight he had gained in Batman to turn into a lean beaten down man whose life consists of back breaking work in the steel furnaces of Pennsylvania. Casey Affleck playing Rodney does great work as someone who has spent long years being trained into a fighter only to return to a life of peace and not being able to feel the adrenaline rush that he has become accustom to feeling while fighting in Iraq and wanting to feel that feeling again. The only other stand out character is Harrelson as DeGroot his meth taking psychotic drug warlord is all that you can want as a villain.
Bales character seems to lose what ever moral restraints once his brother has been killed and his fatalistic acceptance of whatever consequents may occur by killing DeGroot is evident. So when the ending doesn’t have him returning to prison it doesn’t quite seem real.
If you like this type of dark movies then you will like this movie but this isn’t a feel good movie when it ends you’re exhausted and I wanted to watch a comedy just to keep from being depressed.
I give this 3.5 stars.