Film Review: Out of the Furnace

 Out of the Furnace

Out of the Furnace is a brooding drama that builds to a thrilling finale. Scott Cooper’s film offers superb direction and performances.

Russell and his younger brother Rodney Baze live in the Rust Belt. With decent work scarce, Rodney looks at other ways to garner income. When this leads him deep in the wrong crowd, Russell takes matters into his own hands…

Out of the Furnace presents a simple tale, but one that is effective thanks to solid direction, a decent screenplay and some excellent performances. After the success of Crazy Heart, expectations were rather high for writer-director Scott Cooper. With Out of the Furnace he does not disappoint.

There is a brooding atmosphere that pervades the entire film. This is generated by the score, and the careful building of characters and relationships. Out of the Furnace builds slowly, but retains the attention. The final act functions as something of a pay off, with the tension that has gently been accelerating reaching a riveting climax.

Several themes come into play with Out of the Furnace. Most obvious of these is that of justice and revenge. In some ways, this gives the film a timeless feel. Nevertheless, the political backdrop, which is positioned early in the film, gives Out of the Furnace a more modern feel. Without explicitly expressing so, Cooper’s film exhibits the lack of a real sense of opportunity in contemporary industrial towns. This is dominantly conveyed through Rodney, and the choices he makes.

Christian Bale offers a powerful performance as Russell. As ever, Bale is entirely convincing in this role. Casey Affleck is also superb, whilst Forest Whitaker, Woody Harrelson and Willem Dafoe provide good support.

Out of the Furnace shapes its classical themes into a modern tale framed in an understated manner by the real issues facing some American communities today. Scott Cooper decisively illustrates that Crazy Heart was no fluke.