By M. Scott Morris
“Out of the Furnace” is a dark ride from start to finish.
It’s set in a dying steel town, where Russell (Christian Bale) is trying to do the right thing. He works hard, loves his family and doesn’t complain much.
His brother, Rodney (Casey Affleck), is on the wild side. He’s an Iraq veteran and having a hard time reconciling everything he saw overseas with life back home. He borrows money he shouldn’t borrow, and hangs out with people he shouldn’t hang out with.
The viewer knows this isn’t going to turn out well because of the first scene with Harlan (Woody Harrelson). He’s not simply violent; he’s brutal.
It’s clear Rodney’s actions will bring him into Harlan’s world, and that means Russell will be there, too.
This is a well made, well acted film with a load of talent, including Forest Whitaker, Willem Dafoe, Zoe Saldana and a little-used Sam Shepard.
The scenes that feature Harrelson and anybody else pulse with potential violence.
Bale is the embodiment of a good man pushed to do bad things by powers beyond his control. If Russell refuses to help his brother, he would be fine, but that’s not going to happen.
This is a powerful movie and I didn’t enjoy any of it. The pervading sense of doom never lets up.
I don’t think I’ve been spoiled to watch only happy movies. Most dramas give us something to lighten up the mood here and there, if for nothing else than to make the dark times stand out more.
It’s clear from Rodney’s introduction in a betting hall that things will go bad for this family.
I sat there and watched it play out on screen, but would’ve preferred to have been somewhere else.
That presents a problem with giving it a grade. I see the skill and talent at work from the cast, as well as director and co-writer Scott Cooper, but in the end, I didn’t enjoy this movie.
I give “Out of the Furnace” a C plus.
It’s showing at the Cinemark in Tupelo, the Malco in Oxford and Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.