Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 1 hour, 56 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe
Co-written & Directed by Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart)
Out of the Furnace (opening today) begins with a less-than-ideal date, where a woman is abused and her would-be rescuer is beaten senseless. We need this scene to know just how violent Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson) can be, and he doesn't disappoint: Nobody plays a scumbag quite like Woody.
Then we meet the Baze brothers, Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck). Both are tough, rugged individuals each with their own set of problems. Rodney's seem more man-made: He's a gambling man with some serious debts to be paid. Russell seems happy enough with his girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldana) and when he tries to help out his brother by talking to the man who loaned him the money (Willem Dafoe), he rubs shoulders with the dangerous Harlan DeGroat, who was just leaving.
In Out of the Furnace, these early scenes would lead you to believe that things are about to heat up nicely. There are great actors given interesting characters and put in an equally promising situation. But sadly, the story never materializes into anything even lukewarm.
Russell and Rodney both have some absolutely horrible things happen to them during the course of the film. Finally, after the slow crawl of the film's first half, it seems like things are about to heat up when Russell decides to take matters into his own hands after his brother disappears. But then, nothing really happens again. Russell enters a crack house owned by DeGroat, but the two don't run into each other. Instead, we get a few more anticlimactic scenes. The pacing of the film's second half ends up matching the first.
There is an eventual showdown, but by the time it comes it felt like less of a climax and more of a "thank goodness something is happening!" moment. And it's predictable. For a film toting itself a thriller, it is not all that thrilling.
That's not to say that there aren't any good moments, but based on the talent it had to work with, it was disappointing that Out of the Furnace couldn't create more of a spark.
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