Out Of The Furnace

Release Date: December 6th, 2013
Rating: R
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Forest Whitaker, Zoë Saldana, Willem Dafoe
Director: Scott Cooper
Studio: Relativity Media
Genre: Ex-Dark Knight Goes Darker…Waaay Darker
Recommendation: 4 out of 5 Hillbilly Criminals

Christian Bale throwing himself into a film role is nothing new. But Bale has tossed caution — and his old Dark Knight cape — straight to the wind, in his latest film freakout, the old-school white trash trailer-park tragedy Out Of The Furnace.

A working-class psychodrama from writer/director Scott Cooper, whose first feature was the three-hankie country-western weeper Crazy Heart that scored Jeff Bridges a Best Actor Oscar, Out Of The Furnace dives headfirst into the criminal underbelly of drugs and boxing in small-town Pennsylvania, U.S.A., where the American Dream isn’t just gathering dust and accruing rust, it’s fading right the fu** out. And after four tours of duty in Iraq, ex-steelworker Rodney Baze (played by Casey Affleck) staggers home to his recession-wiped-out burg to find it offers even fewer options than the day he left. Rodney refuses to go back to the mill, like his brother Russell (Christian Bale, at his most über-intense). Instead he bets on the ponies and becomes a bare-knuckle boxer, until he’s mired hip-deep in debt — which brings him into the lap of a local loony-toons crime lord (Woody Harrelson), the drooling hick leader of a backwoods crime gang. Disappearing mysteriously one night, Rodney’s tracked down by his bro Russell, who vows to bring the hammer down and the bloodshed to the backwoods to bring his broski home.

Bale’s amazing as always — ‘natch, right? But it’s Harrelson, as the crazy-bug-fu** hillbilly drug lord Harlan DeGroata — coiled rattlesnake who’s so flat-out nutso he’ll drive a cigar down his drive-in date’s throat — who screams out of the screen. One look at Woody and you know you’re not watching the Feel-Good Movie Of The Year. Out Of The Furnace might drop you into a sleazeball view of America that’s in dire disrepair, but it does offer viewers an escape route — a one-way ticket down a dead-end street.

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