Starring: Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Sam Shepard
Directed By: Scott Cooper
Christian Bale is literally good in everything, I think. It’s a shame that this film didn’t get more Oscar attention, but I can understand why. It’s like Christian Bale really wanted his own “Winter’s Bone”, but his version just isn’t quite on the same level. I think it’s because you always know what’s going to happen, and it’s a lot more obvious than Winter’s Bone was.
Russell (Bale) and his brother Rodney (Affleck) are best friends and very close. Rodney’s not good with money, and he’s a war veteran, while Russell works in hard labor. Russell accidentally hits someone with his car, and does a little bit of jail time, and is released to find that his girl (Saldana) has moved on, his father is dead, and Rodney still is not good with money. Rodney also likes to participate in fights for money, which leads him to fighting in a match for Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson). Harlan could best be described as “a crazy son-of-a-bitch”. Harlan kills Rodney, leaving Russell wanting answers. Russell deals with the cops telling him that it’s tough to get answers from those types of people, so he’ll just have to wait a while for justice. Russell, impatient, decides to seek answers of his own. It’s pretty standard revenge stuff, just incredibly well acted by Bale and Harrelson.
I already praised Bale, but Harrelson deserves equal praise. His Harlan DeGroat is some scary shit. Harrelson really pulls off that backwoodsy meth dealer role well, almost as if it was his specialty. While the movie may feel like you’ve already “been there done that”, the performances are worth watching by themselves.
I’m not sure that even if more people had seen Out Of The Furnace that those two would have been nominated for Oscars. It’s strong work for both of them, but they are let down a bit by the movie, which isn’t anything groundbreaking. Russell never feels in any real danger, and it always seems as though he’ll get the revenge he’s so desperately seeking. Predicatable, but well acted.
FINAL GRADE: B