Out of the Furnace (2013)


In this revenge drama from writer/director Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass), Christian Bale seeks vigilante justice after Woody Harrelson murders his brother over gambling debt. Casey Affleck plays the brother, a young man suffering from post-traumatic stress after four tours of duty in Iraq. The rest of the esteemed cast includes Willem DaFoe, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, and Sam Shepard. Out of the Furnace is worth seeing for this collection of amazing talent if for nothing else.

Cooper’s story is surprisingly simple and straight-forward. He’s more interested in character and mood than gimmicky twists or visceral thrills. There’s nothing wrong with that, though it does make the movie a bit predictable from a certain point. I enjoyed the dreary Rust-Belt Pennsylvania setting, but the film’s greatest strength is Woody Harrelson’s memorable performance as the unhinged villain. The very first scene in the movie shows Harrelson beating the shit out of his girlfriend and another man at a movie drive-in. After that opening brutality, he commands the screen — you never know when he might go nuts again.

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