Out of the Furnace review

Scott Cooper
Woody Harrelson
Christian Bale
Casey Affleck
Zoe Saldana
Rated: R

Woody Harrelson was such a bad guy in this, I really wanted Bale to throw a Baterang at him.

“Out of the Furnace” follows Russell (Bale), a man who seems to have things going fairly well for him. He’s honest, hard working and tries to do the right things. His brother Rodney (Affleck), though, is a bit more troubled. Rodney is an Iraqi war veteran who has been on multiple tours because of the stop loss system.

Instead of looking for a steady job, Rodney enters into underground fighting rings. This gets him into more trouble, however, especially with ring leader Harlan DeGroat. After some issues Rodney ends up going missing and Russell, who’s life is going in a downward spiral, has to start thinking of making a decision on whether he should take the law into his own hands.

“Out of the Furnace” is a film that should really work, it has basically everything it needs to work, and yet it falls short of being truly great. The main issue of the film comes with the pacing. The film has some time skips which don’t feel natural and also it seems like it takes too long for the plot to develop and things to be really set in motion. The movie is pushing just under two hours and the story at times seems to be stretched too thin.

The acting in the movie is nothing short of fantastic. Everyone in the cast brings their A games and deliver fine performances. Bale is great, having to portray a lot of tragic emotion as his character’s life starts to fall apart. Bale captures so much inner turmoil, it’s impossible to not pull at the heart strings.

The best part of the movie is Woody Harrelson who delivers a chilling performance as the antagonist. Harrelson doesn’t just portray a villain, he portrays a full on psychopath. Harrelson’s on screen presence is truly frightening and there is always a level of tension when he’s in a scene.

The supporting cast of the film is also strong. With solid performances from actors such as Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard. Each of them being rather reserved but still very good. Zoe Saldana is also a fine member of the cast, however, she is a bit underused. For Casey Affleck, his performance is good, but compared to the others it pales.

When the movie does get to the climax, it becomes completely thrilling and it is really well put together by Director Scott Cooper. The final shot of the movie, however, seemed a bit unnecessary.

Overall, “Out of the Furnace” is a movie that I wanted to like so much more. Yet the pacing issues made the movie feel a bit unfocused at times and I wasn’t as engaged as I felt I should have been. It is worth a watch, but it falls short of greatness, which is a shame. High 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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