Friday, December 13, 2013

Out of The Furnace

     Writer/director Scott Cooper must have been listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen while formulating this movie in his head. We have the mill closing down, a disheartened war vet, ties that bind and just "a meanness in this world" in this flat, melodramatic, blue collar disappointment.

      A first rate cast is wasted in this grim tale of poverty and revenge. Christian Bale stars as Russell,  the factory worker just trying to get by in a dying town and Casey Affleck is his younger brother Rodney, the war vet reduced to illegal bare fist fighting to make a buck. Woody Harrelson is the villain, DeGroat a psycho drug dealer who fixes fights on the side. Willem Dafoe is a fight promoter that sets things in motion.  Zoe Saldana co-stars as Mr. Bale's girlfriend and Forest Whitaker is the town cop. All of them stereotyped characters with hardly any development. Only Mr. Bale rises above the material with his usual intensity. Why he decided to star in this mess we'll probably never know.

       About the only thing that works in the film is the bookend of Pearl Jam's "Release" at the start and end of the film. The music sets a tone at the start that has such promise only to end up a disappointment. But as a coda to the story, it is perfect as a reprise.  

        Unfortunately there are no surprises here except for an anti-climatic ending which is so dull and unsatisfying, I felt like asking for my money back. Save your money and wait for "American Hustle", a film that appears to have Mr. Bale atoning for this sin. 

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