Out of the Furnace
3.4Overall Score

After watching the trailer for this movie a couple of months ago, I was fully convinced that this a must-see movie of the fall. I put together the following equation Christian Bale + Casey Affleck + Woody Harrelson = AWESOME. Then there was a rude awakening of the respective reviews on RT; this hopeful masterpiece is only in the 50s…I could not believe it. Whereas my normal reaction would have been to swallow my disappointment, avoid this movie in theaters and maybe go for it on Redbox or iTunes, I decided to take the risk. The acting staff and my company convinced me that it is worth the risk. And my overall opinion is that this is a solid movie and here is why….


First of, my scientific mathematical equation above did not disappoint. The setting of the movie is the post-modern America in a dying sad ghost town with characters who are living hopeless lives while trying to make it work somehow. We have seen these stories before lately (The Fighter, Killing Them Softly) but I think there was one particular thing which stood out here; all the characters were as believable as they can be. And that is tribute to the writer as well as the acting staff. It is pretty hard to point out who I liked the most here since I’m an open admirer of Christian Bale. And he shows once again that he is one of the best method actors of our times; if you would look up versatile in the dictionary (in the unlikely case that you actually had or used one), you’d probably see a picture of Bale next to a picture of Daniel Day-Lewis. With this movie and (most likely the upcoming Oscar contender) American Hustle, Bale shows that as one of the few actors who are actually able to emancipate themselves from one of the most successful franchises of recent movie history. But enough of my Bale-fanboy’ism, the even more memorable performance here is done by Woody Harrelson; he is so evil, nasty and just plain-out bad that it’s just a pleasure to watch him act it all out. Aside from these heavyweights, I was very happy to see Casey Affleck in a big production again. After his outstanding performance in Gone Baby Gone, it felt like he never got another chance to prove himself and here he finally gets to do so.

out-of-the-furnace-woody-willemWhereas the big strength of this film lies in the characters (with some Oscar noteworthy scenes such as the reunion between Russell and Lena), the film also (unfortunately) has a big weakness – the storyline. The buildup is great and I felt the director Scott Cooper managed to get his audience just into the right mood to set the stage for a new masterpiece. One could truly empathize with all the characters and their destinies and that did not particularly change throughout the picture. However somewhere along the lines, the film forget what it wanted to tell the audience and what its purpose really was. Is it a family drama with some socio-economic criticism or is it actually kind of a revenge-thriller? So in the last third, the movie is basically only carried through the finish line by its great actors and without them I’m convinced that it would have fell apart. I may be a little harsh in my criticism here but it is more the disappointment that I was sitting there in the first hour and absolutely loved this film. And as the storyline more and more lost its cohesiveness, I was getting more critical. What bothered me here was that too many things ended up being to foreseeable (even though they still ended up shocking me).

Overall however, the movie absolutely exceeded my expectations and it most certainly does not deserve the 50(ish)% on RT which critics have given. This movie is well-shot and has an absolute A-league of actors playing their A-game. Scott Cooper adds some good architectural elements (such as the hunting scene) but then the movie ultimately falls short to be an A+ piece due to the lack of a cohesive script.

The Good

  • Fantastic actors doing fantastic acting
  • Depressing and thus realistic depiction of post-modern America
  • Good and suitable score

The Bad

  • Script doesn’t know what it wants to say
  • Big holes in the storyline
  • Movie could have been a modern masterpiece


  • Running time: 116 min
  • Genre: Drama
  • Year: 2013

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