After Christian Bale hung up his cape, it wasn’t long until he moved onto other projects, Out of the Furnace being one of them. Looking at how physically intimidating he was in The Dark Knight Trilogy compared to his overall look in this film, it further proves the fact that he is one of the most committed actors in the business today. Now this drop in weight is nothing compared to when he starred in The Machinist, where he dropped down to an astoundingly dangerous weight of 122 pounds; keep in mind this is a man that normally weighs around 185 and he did this of his own volition. While his weight definitely dropped for this film, he looked a lot healthier than his previous roles such as the one just mentioned or The Fighter, which is the role that won him his first Oscar.
In the month of December he will have two movies in theaters, both possible Oscar contenders; the second being American Hustle. As with every role he takes on, he seems to lose who he is for who the character is. In American Psycho he was beyond reality and enveloped in a world of murder and sex, and you bought his portrayal of this character because he seemed to become him. In Out of the Furnace he plays a simple man with simple desires and once again it is believable. Starring alongside Bale is Casey Affleck, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, and Woody Harrelson in one of the most despicable roles of his career as the hillbilly drug lord of a forgotten place that is widely known as the Rust Belt.
Out of the Furnace tells a story of humble people trying to scrape by in a time of economic downfall. Russell Blaze (Bale) is a man not ashamed of hard work and wants to simply instill this kind of thinking in his younger brother, Rodney (Affleck). Rodney grew up with Russell but experienced life as a soldier in Iraq for four tours of duty. The things he was forced to do over there have been imprinted on his soul and because of this he has lost his way. He feels, as he should, that due to his sacrifices as an American soldier that he is owed something from the country he defended. But in this oh-so-imperfect country of ours no help is given to him and no restitution is given for taking on one of the most horrific careers on the planet. With seemingly no alternate roads to traverse, he chooses to fight in bare knuckle boxing for some quick cash. After he succeeds and debts are evened with his local bookie, John Petty (Willem Dafoe), who got him the fight, they leave this backwards part of the country behind. Much like in Iraq, Rodney and John are in a land unfamiliar to them and thus are in extreme danger. After an altercation with Harlan DeGroat (Harrelson) causes Rodney to go missing, his brother Russell begins searching for him. Set in a rural part of the country, this beautifully shot drama showcases the love two brothers share and the lengths they will go for one another.
This is a drama with sudden hits of brutal violence and it’s used to show the lawlessness that has overtaken the film’s setting. The place is unkind to outsiders and reacts harshly to them, causing most to leave in a body bag. This film really gives a sense of being on another planet; it is unchecked by law and order and it’s scary to watch characters unfamiliar make their way through it. There is always this sense of loss throughout the film, especially with Bale’s character, and it shows wonderfully and very dramatically what happens when someone feels they have nothing left to lose. The only motivation left is revenge; the justice these people inflicted on those less fit to fight back will be brought upon their own heads.
Scott Cooper, director of Crazy Heart, brings another crisply shot drama but with a very different feel. The heavily forested areas that create the background are captured in all the green and fog filled beauty that they create. It is nothing ground breaking but it is executed well enough that anything that has been done before can be forgiven. With a solid script, well developed characters, and tremendous actors bringing these characters to life, Out of the Furnace is a superb film that should be seen at least once.
Rated R For: strong violence, language and drug content
Run Time: 116 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson, Zoe Saldana, Sam Shepard, Willem Dafoe
Directed By: Scott Cooper
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 4/ Acting: 4/ Directing: 4/ Visuals: 4
OVERALL: 4 Nerdskulls