Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana
Directed by: Scott Cooper
Written By: Brad Ingelsby, Scott Cooper
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 56 min
Out of the Furnace is billed as a family revenge drama/thriller. Russell Baze (Christian Bale), not satisfied by the inept police response to his brothers disappearance, takes matters into his own hands. That element of the story however, felt more like a sub-plot in Scott Coopers film as the real focus was the town of Braddock. I got a real sense of the place from this film as it’s similar to a small coal mining town I grew up in. A town and a community that grew around a single large industry, then faded as that industry scaled back or even shut down completely. This attention to detail, and respect for the town of Braddock however do get in the way of the story.
What helps Furnace shine though are the excellent performances by Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, and especially Christian Bale who seemed so in tune with the town of Braddock you’d swear he grew up there! At the same time there are a couple of casting mishaps. Zoe Saldana is a very beautiful and talented actress, but seemed so out-of-place in this movie, and Forest Whitaker also seemed an odd choice for this story too. These two supporting roles would have been better served by lesser known character actors than this pair of A-Lister leads.
Prepare yourself for a slow-moving, but pretty atmospheric ride. The plot comes second to the setting and characters in this film. If you’re a Christian Bale fan this is a must see.
I loved the setting in and around the town of Braddock. I suggest a digital matinée showing. At home, a HD TV viewing is recommended.
Best scene for me: <<spoiler >>
The most moving scene came about half way through as Russell finds out his ex-girlfriend Lena (Zoe Saldana) is pregnant. This signals the official end of their relationship, and boy do you feel Russell’s pain.