run time: 116 mins
considered: Crime, Drama, Thriller,
starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Zoe Saldana, Sam Sherpard
movie summary: When Rodney Baze mysteriously disappears and law enforcement fails to follow through, his older brother, Russell, takes matters into his own hands to find justice. (www.imdb.com)
my thoughts: Out of the Furnace is an example of when times are tough and once someone digs themselves in a hole with the wrong people they may never get their life back.
Christian Bale stars as Russell Baze who is the eldest brother in the Baze family. He lives in a small town in Pennsylvania working at the same mill his dad spent his life working at. He has a beautiful girlfriend, Lena (Zoe Saldina) and not so smart brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) who serves in the US Army. Rodney is known to make poor decisions, never has money, and is always in trouble with loan sharks. In an attempt to pay off some of his debt Rodney takes to MMA style bare knuckle fighting. During the fight(s) he is told to take a dive but usually snaps and beats the other guy within an inch of his life. He never listens and always ends up deeper in debt.
One night Russell has too many drinks and crashes his truck into a car killing a mom and her son. He gets sentenced to time in jail which leaves Rodney all alone after he returns from yet another tour in Iraq. After an unspecified amount of time in jail, Russell is released only to learn that his dad has passed and Rodney is in even more trouble then ever before.
In one final attempt to clean the slate and pay off his debts, Rodney begs to get one final fight with someone from Harlan DeGroat’s (Woody Harrelson) fighting group. He travels to the hills in New Jersey and after dominating the majority of the fight finally takes a dive like he is supposed to. After the match Harlan doesn’t like how the business side of the deal goes down so he kidnaps Rodney and John Petty (Willem Dafoe).
Russell waits days for Rodney to come home but he never does. The police get involved but due to jurisdictions problems are not able to go to New Jersey and look for answers. Harlan is a very powerful drug kingpin and money launderer in that part of the state so the local police don’t bother to inquire. Russell with his uncle Gerard (Sam Shepard) decide to take matters into their own hands and head there to find Harlan. After missing their chance to confront him at his own house, Russell sets up a money/drug pick up back in the city where he shows up with a shot-gun seeking revenge for his brother. The police show up and put Russell in the tough position to pull the trigger or surrender.
I thought Out of the Furnace had a good story with amazing performances from Bale, Affleck, and Harrelson but was so slow-paced that I couldn’t wait for it to end. The whole point of the story is about seeking revenge and how making poor decisions on a constant basis will never lead to anything good. For me the best parts of the movie were the fight scenes which were not long and not often enough.
my star rating: 3 out 10